Urban financial management: a training manual

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Yet several important issues arise whenever these mobilization instruments are contemplated and evaluated in the context of sustainable development. Pertinent Issues Examined Finance is one of the most critical aspects of municipal development ". What can be done to meet the rising cost of local government? Where can new revenues be obtained? How can public services be financed on a basis equitable to all residents of the municipal community? What kind of taxes will be least harmful to urban economic activity? How should fiscal responsibility be divided between levels of government?

Answers to question of this nature do not come easily. The era of population explosion and the expanding municipality is not without social costs in the form of new problems and aggravations of already existing ones Bollens and Schmandt, It is an era that places in mammoth burdens on governmental agencies and public facilities and calls forever expanding services to meet the needs, which it generates. It is a period, moreover, in which demands on local treasury have been further intensified because of greater service wants.

Simply raising adequate revenue, however, is not enough. It must be raised in an equitable fashion. Indeed, the two tasks are interrelated because is in itself an obstacle to revenue collection. McMaster argued that resistance to pay taxes or charges will increase if individuals perceive that they pay more than they can afford or feel that they are bearing an undue proportion of the burden compared to others or the level of services they receive.

These issues raise the questions. Who actually pays the cost of municipal services and who should pay the cost? Should taxes or user charges be levied, and is nation or local taxation more appropriate?

Who pays? Some public services are financed by the consumer in Nigeria. In the first case, every taxpayer contributes, in the second case, payment depends directly upon provision and use. Looking purely at financing by general taxation, there is a further distinction. Some services are paid for by the national taxpayer through central government expenditure, subsidies to public enterprises and grants to local authorities and some are paid for by the local taxpayer through local taxes and local surcharges on national taxes.

Austin N. These include the ability of the mechanism to raise revenues, its effect on economic efficiency, its equity implications and its administrative feasibility Myers, Taxing or Charging? What distinguishes a service financed by consumers from one funded by taxpayers? Generally, if it is possible to measure the consumption levels of urban services such as water, electricity, telephone and refuse collection by individual households, user charges can be applied. User charges can be based on two principles of equity or fairness. The first is the "benefit principle" those who receive direct benefits from a service pay for it in relation to their level of consumption.

The second is the "ability to pay principle" charges on relation to household financial capacity to pay. Low - income households are charged a lower rate per unit to service them higher income groups. However , many services fall between these two categories. A service may benefit one person particularly but, nevertheless, have some effects on others; such externalities may be positive or negative. Domestic water supplies in Port Harcourt municipal, for example, benefit the individual household and their cost can be measured but they also reduce communicable diseases and therefore, have wider benefits.

Where the benefits are both private and public, a consumer charge subsidized from taxes may be justified if it enables or encourages a wider number of people to use the service.


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The mix of charge and subsidy should depend upon the balance of private and public benefit where the effects are negative, for example the congestion or pollution caused by city center parking in Lagos. It is advantageous to make the charge punitive, that is, above the level of the service cost, to discourage consumption. There is a further aspect of fairness.

Some goods and services are with little externalities thus " merit goods" that is basic human needs. Subsidization or even total financing from taxation may be regarded as right to enable consumption by those who are too poor to meet a full consumer charge. This rational is applicable to primary education, health care and possibly housing, its extent dependable on economy and what contemporary values regard as a minimum standard of living.

These are concentric rather than exclusive.

Moreover, the demarcations between the three categories are not always clear. For the purpose of this paper, we are basically interested in local taxation.

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This paper is interested in all these categories. If the present local tax base is unsatisfactory, it is not yielding sufficient revenue or its incidence is perceived as unfair, reform can concentrate upon improving revenue administration, increasing the tax rate, or reducing exemption, or search for alternative local taxes.

In what follows therefore, we shall examined primarily the three alternative forms of local tax. Taxes on Property Taxes on land and buildings constitute the most common form of direct revenue for local authorities in urban areas. In principle, property taxation is an ideal way to finance many urban services Bahl, The value of urban real estate generally grows rapidly with urbanization and can be objectively assessed by physical inspection of an immovable object.

In practice, property tax is indeed the most common and comported, among the taxes collected by urban governments. Property tax valuations, however, are used as a base for meeting costs individual services such as water supplies or street lighting. Taxes on land and buildings are normally imposed on all types of property - commercial, industrial, institutional and residential. There are sometimes exemptions often including places of worship and charitable agencies. Property taxes are normally assessed by applying a tariff to a valuation prescribed by law or left to the discretion of the local authority Heilbrun, , Netzer, Valuation is based on annual rental values, capital site values and unimproved site values.

The first is the potential income to the owner from renting a property. Rental values are often known on the basis of a " fair rent" after deducting standard percentage representing the national cost of repairs and maintenance. Rental values may be which difficult to justify especially where the private rental market is relatively small rent levels are subject to violent fluctuation and there is ineffective rent control legislation.


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Capital improved site values is the potential market sale price of the property plus its improvement. Assessment may be based upon sales data method, capitalized value method, replacement cost method and regression analysis method. The third as unimproved site values which has to do with the potential market sale price of the land as if it were vacant, disregarding any actual development on it.

There is a need for the notional advantage of encouraging owners to develop their land as they do not incur any more tax in doing so. Taxes on Income Apart from property taxes, local councils can and make use of taxes on income. Income tax is almost invariably a major national government tax source, jealously guarded by the central treasury. Nevertheless, there are a number of ways in which municipal councils in Nigeria derive from the taxation of income.

In a few cases, municipal governments are permitted by law to impose tax on income which they levy, assess and collect. The United States is a typical example of where the Federal and Local Governments have concurrent powers of taxing income. In some cases, there is surcharge on national income tax and assignment of national income tax where the central government assigns to local authorities a fixed percentage of the national income tax.

A tax on profession is an integral part of local income tax where a tax is imposed upon the pursuit of a particular profession for example law and pharmacy, medicine, accounting etc , payable to municipal councils. The French tax patent is replicated in a number of francophone African States.

Businesses are assessed based on the type of operation and the resulting fixed multiplier applied to the property tax valuation. This type of tax is non-effective in Nigeria. In some cases, local authorities have levied a general personal tax on the lower segments of income, which fall below the point at which liability for national income tax begins. Skip to Main Content. Skip to Search Box. Skip to Top Navigation Bar.

Skip to Left Navigation Bar. Skip to Organizational Offices. Skip to Bottom Navigation. Description Urban Tree Risk Management: A Community Guide to Program Design and Implementation is a fully illustrated, easy to read training manual written for community leaders, administrators, city foresters, parks and public works staff, and private tree care practitioners. The manual is designed to assist communities design, adopt and implement tree risk management programs, and train field staff to detect, assess, and correct hazardous defects in urban trees.


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A team of experts in urban forestry, plant pathology and forest health collaborated to produce this manual. Consulting arborists, city foresters, and educators provided extensive review to ensure the information applies to communities of varying sizes and budgets.