The Politics of City Revenue

By Arnold J. Meltsner | Go to book overview

5
Budgeting Without Money

One of my main interests in exploring revenue is that I believe it is an important factor in explaining budgetary behavior. In the previous chapters, I noted that the city's revenue constraint encourages building a budgetary surplus through conservative estimating rules and that Oakland uses its limited resources mostly for self-maintenance but not for an expansion of services. In addition, other aspects of budgetary behavior indicate the importance of revenue. Departmental officials often use revenue as a justification for expenditure requests; for example, the Recreation Department argues that its subsidization of Lake Merritt activities helps downtown business and increases the sales tax yield. The city's budget officer believes his analysts should know about revenue because it provides insight to a department's program. Another example is similar to a "strategy" Wildavsky identified at the federal level: in budget review, an expenditure request is more likely to be approved if it will pay for itself by generating its own revenue or decreasing costs.1 Thus, revenue influences behavior at a number of points in the budgetary process.

To say that revenue influences budgetary behavior is not particularly helpful because this conclusion approximates the empty statement that cities spend the money they have. It is

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1
Aaron Wildavsky, The Politics of the Budgetary Process ( Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1964), pp. 117-118.

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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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