Theoretical Perspectives, International Experience and Policy Reform
Studies in Fiscal Federalism and State–local Finance series
Edited by Santiago Lago-Peñas and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez
Chapter 10: Options for rationalizing local government structure: a policy agenda
In comparison with higher tiers of government, the range of services provided by local government across different national jurisdictions is characterized by substantial heterogeneity. While in some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, local authorities deliver a comparatively narrow array of services, focused mostly on ‘services to property’, in other national contexts, like the United Kingdom, the local government sector offers a much broader assortment of services, including numerous ‘services to people’ (Dollery et al., 2008). A further complicating factor resides in the fact that in many local government systems, the composition and quality of service provision is largely prescribed by central and state governments rather than decided by local authorities themselves. This complexity deepens when we consider the wide variety of methods employed to deliver these services. Throughout the developed world, local government adopts an intricate mix of approaches encompassing not only traditional ‘in-house’ delivery, but also alternative delivery modes, including for-profit, non-profit, inter-municipal cooperation, franchises, subsidies, and through volunteers (Andrews and Entwistle, 2010). Moreover, reliance on these different methods is evolving through time in accordance with both prevailing managerial doctrine and learned experience (Warner and Hefetz, 2008).
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