February 2020

Does Inter-municipal Cooperation Really Reduce Delivery Costs?

February 27, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Germà Bel (Universitat de Barcelona) and Marianna Sebő (Universitat de Barcelona) | Growing skepticism expressed by local governments towards private-sector participation in public service provision has led many local authorities to experiment with new forms of public service delivery. In recent decades, one of the alternatives most frequently adopted has been inter-municipal cooperation (IMC). IMC is seen as a tool that can lower costs by exploiting economies of scale, while maintaining greater government control over production, something that is not readily achievable with privatization. Further benefits of IMCs include the enhanced cross-jurisdictional coordination, service quality and inter-municipal reciprocity. Concerns over stability, equity and universality may also stimulate cooperation. Read More

Old Policies and New Presidents: Promise Zones and the Trump Administration

February 21, 2020 // 1 Comment

Robert P. Stoker (George Washington University) and Michael J. Rich (Emory University) | Our recent Urban Affairs Review article (Stoker and Rich 2019) examined President Obama's urban legacy. We described the distribution of selected place-based urban assistance grants provided by the administration to the fifty largest U.S. cities. That analysis emphasized the complexity and fragility of Obama-era urban policy, which required multiple local mobilizations to win competitive federal grants. Few cities won multiple grants and those that did often had difficulties coordinating projects to create synergistic local initiatives. Read More

Arguing over Transportation Sales Taxes: An Analysis of Equity Debates in Transportation Ballot Measures

February 12, 2020 // 0 Comments

Jaimee Lederman (UCLA), Anne Brown (University of Oregon), Brian D. Taylor (UCLA), and Martin Wachs (UCLA) | Voter-approved local option sales tax (LOST) measures for transportation increasingly fill gaps between falling fuel tax revenues and growing transportation investment needs. There are concerns, however, over whether LOSTs are an equitable transportation finance mechanism. Equity is a critical concept in public policy and finance, and debates over resource distribution on fairness grounds are often contentious. Sales taxes are typically regressive—disproportionately burdening low-income residents—and disconnected from transportation system usage. Read More