A new paper by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) called “Merging Municipalities: Is Bigger Better?” examines the governance of metropolitan areas from an international perspective. The paper, by Enid Slack and Richard Bird of the IMFG, describes the challenges of governing metropolitan regions in different parts of the world, and the range of restructuring options that are considered to address them, including two-tier models, voluntary cooperation, special purpose districts, and amalgamations.
Based on the international evidence, two-tier structures may be more effective in allowing metropolitan regions to recap the benefits that come with large size, while retaining the responsiveness typical of smaller municipalities
The paper also includes a case study of the amalgamation in Toronto that provides new empirical research about its effects on municipal expenses and tax revenues, and the implications for governance and citizen participation.
The authors conclude that while Toronto’s amalgamation has resulted in higher expenditures for some services and has not solved any of the regional issues, it may have had some benefits: a fairer sharing of the tax base among rich and poor municipalities, and the ability to equalize local service levels across the larger city.
The paper can be accessed here.
Featuring Canadian and international scholars, the IMFG Papers are intended to disseminate research on municipal finance and governance issues, and inform the debate on important issues in large cities and city-regions. Other IMFG Papers can be found here.