Category Archives: Local Government

Business Improvement Districts and Contemporary Local Governance

Source: Dan Ziebarth, State and Local Government Review, OnlineFirst, Published October 23, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have become an increasingly prevalent method for contemporary public management and economic revitalization. BIDs are private non-profit organizations established primarily in urban areas to deliver public services and improve economic conditions by imposing additional assessments on property owners. This dynamic allows improvement districts to serve as quasi-public entities inextricably intertwined with local policy measures and government officials, while concurrently operating as private organizations. This paper begins by providing an introduction outlining the role BIDs play in modern local governance, followed by a brief overview of the historical progression of improvement district implementation in cities. The contemporary state of debate surrounding the efficacy and implications of BIDs on local governance is then reviewed, while discussing the impact of recent research on the field of study. It concludes by reflecting on proliferation of improvement districts as an entity for modern public service delivery, as well as suggesting future directions for research pertaining to BIDs.

Transparency in Local Governments: Patterns and Practices of Twenty-first Century

Source: Redeemer Dornudo Yao Krah, Gerard Mertens, State and Local Government Review, OnlineFirst, Published November 3, 2020
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From the abstract:
The study is a systematic literature review that assembles scientific knowledge in local government transparency in the twenty-first Century. The study finds a remarkable growth in research on local government transparency in the first nineteen years, particularly in Europe and North America. Social, economic, political and institutional factors are found to account for this trend. In vogue among local governments is the use of information technology to enhance transparency. The pressure to become transparent largely comes from the passage of Freedom of Information Laws and open data initiatives of governments.

Learning From the Joneses: The Professional Learning Effect of Regional Councils of Government on Municipal Fiscal Slack in Suburban Chicago

Source: David Mitchell, Whitney Davis, Rebecca Hendrick, Public Budgeting and Finance, Advance Articles, First published: October 30, 2020 (subscription required)

From the abstract:
Fiscal slack scholars have sought to identify the primary generators of unreserved fund balance (UFB) within local governments, including economic, organizational, demographic, institutional, and political factors. Guo and Wang (2017) extend this endeavor spatially; however, geography may mask the professional learning impact of subregional councils of governments (COGs). This study examines 265 Chicago suburban municipalities to reveal through a pairing approach that municipalities who belong to the same subregional COG generally have more similar UFB levels, independent of geographical proximity. Policymakers can therefore utilize COGs when making decisions regarding a municipality’s most vital resource for strategic investments and fiscal stress.

Assessment of County Needs in Economic Recovery from COVID-19

Source: National Association of Counties, October 2020

From the abstract:
County leaders have witnessed firsthand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their neighbors and constituents and are well-informed on needs arising in their local communities. While county governments are uniquely positioned to support recovery efforts, counties, themselves, need support to meet those needs and secure the physical and economic well-being of their residents moving forward. This report outlines what county leaders have identified as primary concerns, priority actions and resources needed to create equitable long-term economic recovery.

Workforce Capacity in Municipal Government

Source: Agustin Leon‐Moreta, Vittoria R. Totaro, Public Administration Review, Early View, First published: February 19, 2020

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From the abstract:

The central aim of this article is to examine trends in the municipal government workforce in metropolitan (urban) areas. It explores, from a local public economies perspective, how the intergovernmental organization of municipalities influences their workforce capacities. The article situates the local labor market in state‐local systems and examines how local governments respond to fragmentation in a metropolitan area. The main finding is that the employment capacity of municipalities varies widely across metro areas, with local and intergovernmental factors affecting municipal workforces and labor expenditures. Local capacities and the state’s labor framework appear to be influential in the level of government employment. Facing various challenges, municipalities adapt their workforce levels to changing conditions in urban areas. While its main contribution is to research on local government capacity, the article also draws from the intergovernmental literature to identify factors that influence the workforce capacity of municipal governments.

Localized Strategies for Addressing the Workforce Crisis in Home Care

Source: Allison Cook, PHI, Issue Brief, November 12, 2019

From the summary:
The United States is facing a home care workforce crisis that profoundly impacts older adults, people with disabilities, and family caregivers. While resolving the crisis will require concerted action at the state and national levels, there is also an important role for local governments and stakeholders to play. This issue brief presents a range of localized strategies for strengthening the home care workforce, along with real-world examples.

Key Takeaways:
• This issue brief presents a range of localized strategies for strengthening the home care workforce, along with examples.
• Local stakeholders are well-placed to identify and implement targeted strategies for strengthening the home care workforce.
• The home care workforce crisis reverberates across local regions, states, and the nation, and must be addressed at each of these levels.

Dissolving Village Government in New York State

Source: Lisa K. Parshall, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, June 24, 2019

From a state-level perspective, the dissolution and consolidation of village and town governments makes fiscal sense. By examining local responses to the dissolution debate, we identify some of the noneconomic reasons that village residents are often reluctant to dissolve.

When Collaboration Is Risky Business: The Influence of Collaboration Risks on Formal and Informal Collaboration

Source: Jessica N. Terman, Richard C. Feiock, Jisun Youm, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, August 8, 2019
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From the abstract:
In the last two decades, local governments have increasingly engaged in energy conservation and sustainability programs and policy. However, the benefits of these policies (i.e., cleaner air, less congestion, etc.) are often perceived as dispersed and costly. As such, localities consider collaborating with one another. However, decisions to collaborate pose considerable risks that can be magnified or mitigated by the mechanisms through which collaboration occurs. We investigate decisions to engage in formal and informal collaboration in the area of energy efficiency and conservation as a response to collaboration risks.

The Returns to Lobbying: Evidence from Local Governments in the “Age of Earmarks”

Source: Steven Gordon, Public Finance Review, OnlineFirst, Published July 22, 2019
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From the abstract:
I measure the returns to lobbying for US local governments in terms of federal earmarks. Because a local government’s decision to lobby may be endogenous to receiving an earmark, I instrument for lobbying with local housing prices. Since the time period of my analysis covers the Housing Crisis, I argue that the variation in housing prices over this time was largely exogenous to federal earmark distributions. The strong correlation that I find between housing price growth rates and lobbying provides evidence that local governments lobbied to buffer against impending property tax losses. I find no evidence that lobbying is associated with increased earmark awards overall. However, conditional on selection into receiving an earmark, I do find evidence that lobbying served to increase the size of earmark awards.

Do Small Local Governments Fare Well? A Survey of Villages in New York

Source: Pengju Zhang, Marc Holzer, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, July 25, 2019
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From the abstract:
Public administration studies have not adequately discussed governance challenges for small local governments. Given that more than 10% of villages have, unprecedentedly, voted on dissolution in New York over the past 10 years, this article exclusively and comprehensively investigates how well villages are faring in New York. Using a representative survey of village governments, coupled with a rich secondary data set, it finds institutional and political tensions between villages and their underlying town(s). It also suggests intergovernmental fiscal factors have threatened the organizational and fiscal health of some village governments. In addition, villages have extensively established service-sharing mechanisms with town(s) to mitigate fiscal stress. The majority of village officials remain skeptical about dissolution as an effective approach to cost savings.