Monday, December 3, 2007

Nicities

London’s financial position is relatively weak, and its draw on public funds appears high.
Toronto Mayor David Miller calls it "very ill-informed" and the research "so shoddy it barely deserved to be called a study"… so as far as I'm concerned, that's an endorsement of the Frontier Centre's 2007 Local Government Performance Index. And while mixing quantitative data with qualitative values always brings some doubt to final assessments — what are "niceties" and how do they "reasonably balance" with "core" expenditures? — the London overview (PDF) presents a mostly common-sense summary of what Londoners already have a pretty good idea:
Summary

The City of London operates in a sound local economy with house prices, unemployment and median household income all close to national averages. The municipality’s operations are affected by above average debt and net liabilities and a high drain on public funds. The standards of public reporting were thirtieth out of 30 LGPI cities. This includes poor accounting disclosures such as a failure to delineate property taxation from user charges, thus frustrating analysts and stakeholders alike when they try to measure this municipality’s financial situation.

Findings

• London’s financial situation includes above average long-term debt (27% above) added to which, net financial liabilities are very high at $2,467 per household. However, ownership of London Hydro goes some way toward balancing the net financial position.
• London’s capital, operating and total expenditure measures are approximately 20% more than the LGPI municipal national averages.
• London has a high reliance on grants from other governments. While this reliance on public funds is not discernable due to the conflation of taxation and user charges (above), a higher government grants figure, 121% above average, suggests this is a highly publicly funded municipality.
• The proportion of niceties expenditure compared to necessities (at 81%, close to the average proportion of 74%) indicates a reasonable balance between the core and non-core expenditures.
• Capital expenditures are higher (by 23%), perhaps accounting for use of the higher debt funding.
Thanks to BBS in the comments for the link.

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