The Politics of City Revenue

By Arnold J. Meltsner | Go to book overview

6
Citizen-Leader Perceptions of Oakland Finance

From a systemic viewpoint, the public is the ultimate provider of the resource input to the city system. It seems reasonable to get some insights into public opinion on taxation; however, taxes, like many policy issues, suffer from public inattention. In spite of newspaper coverage of public conflicts over assessment or a new source of revenue, most people are unaware of taxes most of the time. The exceptions are the few times a year the taxpayer receives his property tax bill or fills out his income tax form. From previous survey work we know that there is a general confusion over the relationship of expenditures and tax policy. Poor people, for example, generally want more services and fewer taxes. They want someone else--the government--to pay for these services. Taxation is not only dull but it is hard to understand. A college education does not guarantee that the citizen will understand the possessory interest tax or the difference between secured and unsecured property tax rolls.

Does it make sense to talk about public opinion on taxation when only small segments, the tax publics (see chapter 3), of the community articulate such opinions? The average citizen will have opinions on taxation, but his opinions may be neither differentiated by revenue source nor bolstered by actual knowledge. On the other hand, the city official is concerned about the political feasibility of specific sources of revenue. Just what the public will support is an important criterion in the official's calculus. For

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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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