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Geography and public finance: planning for fiscal equity in a metropolitan region

Pacione, Michael (2001) Geography and public finance: planning for fiscal equity in a metropolitan region. Progress in Planning, 56 (1). pp. 1-59. ISSN 0305-9006

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Abstract

The provision of public services is a major function of local governments. The capability of local jurisdictions to fulfil this role depends upon the relationship between fiscal capacity and expenditure needs. The extent of the capacity-needs gap varies between jurisdictions in response to a host of economic, social and political factors. Such differences can lead to major socio-spatial disparities in levels of public service provision and in the quality of life for residents of different jurisdictions. These variations are particularly acute within metropolitan regions of advanced capitalist societies in which there is a geographical mismatch between increasingly extensive functional urban regions and politically constrained urban administrative units. This research examines the geography of public finance at the metropolitan level with particular reference to the Glasgow metropolitan region of west central Scotland, identifies major spatial variations in fiscal health among metropolitan local authorities, and evaluates possible strategies to promote fiscal equity. It is concluded that achieving fiscal equity in metropolitan regions will require a new form of fiscal politics informed by the existing fiscal geography but propelled by the goals of territorial and social justice.