The Politics of City Revenue

By Arnold J. Meltsner | Go to book overview

4
The Sewer Service Charge

The ten-year history of the sewer service charge illustrates the continuity of subsystem behavior throughout the stages of the revenue process. At each stage from search to administration, there are examples of the revenue tactics discussed in chapter 3. During the search and decision stages, the subsystem resorted to anticipatory tactics. The subsystem did not pioneer the sewer service charge; instead, it modified other cities' experiences to fit the Oakland context. The subsystem also negotiated with segments of the environment. A local utility district had to be convinced that it should be the tax collector for the city. The subsystem had to negotiate the rate schedule with the large industrial users. At the administration stage, the subsystem maintained the consensus by anticipating the reactions of the large users to a rate increase.

Because of their anecdotal nature, case studies are too often relegated to the social science ashcan. When the social scientist looks at an organizational process at a point in time, he may miss the dynamics of the observed behavior. Even for the relatively static city of Oakland, one might expect a modicum of change in the revenue process. Certainly environmental pressure on the property tax has increased, and the subsystem's search for nonproperty-tax revenue has intensified. I had thought that a case study of a revenue source would reveal modifications in the revenue process. This was not true in Oakland.

-132-

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The Politics of City Revenue
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • The Oakland Project vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Revenue Sources 12
  • 2 - City Officials And Oakland Finance 49
  • 3 - The Revenue Process And Public Avoidance 86
  • 4 - The Sewer Service Charge 132
  • 5 - Budgeting Without Money 161
  • 6 - Citizen-Leader Perceptions Of Oakland Finance 186
  • 7 - Politics, Policy, And City Revenue 248
  • Appendix 287
  • Bibliography 289
  • Index 297
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