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La taille du conseil municipal et le coût de la représentation démocratique dans les principales villes du Québec et du Canada

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  • Jean-Philippe Meloche

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  • Patrick Kilfoil
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    Abstract

    Despite an ongoing debate on the size of municipal council in several Canadian cities, especially in Quebec, relatively few studies have measured the impact of the number of elected officials on local public finances. This research analyzes the budgetary effects of the size of council in Canada’s and Quebec’s largest cities. Do more elected officials lead to higher municipal expenses? This report looks at the question through multivariate regressions on cross sections of, on one hand, Canadian municipalities with a population of over 200,000 and, on the other hand, Quebec municipalities of over 20,000 inhabitants. The research shows that the number of elected officials has a double financial effect on municipalities. It impacts both the council’s operations as well as democratic life. Council expenses in the cities we have looked at increase proportionally to the number of elected officials, with elasticity coefficients between 0,8 and 0,9. Elected officials also have an indirect effect on public expenses because of their inclination not to internalize their use of common resources. This effect on total municipal expenses can be significant, with elasticity coefficients of up to 0,4. Despite this, council size usually remains a trivial issue from a public municipal finances standpoint, especially when considered in proportion of total budgets. Au sein du débat sur la taille des conseils municipaux auquel se livrent plusieurs villes canadiennes, particulièrement au Québec, très peu d’études viennent mesurer les impacts du nombre d’élus sur les finances publiques locales. Cette recherche s’intéresse aux effets budgétaires de la taille des conseils municipaux dans les grandes villes du Québec et du Canada. Un plus grand nombre d’élus entraîne-t-il vraiment des coûts plus élevés pour les municipalités? Ce rapport propose une analyse de la question à l’aide de régressions multivariées sur des coupes transversales comprenant, d’une part, des municipalités canadiennes de plus de 200 000 habitants et, d’autre part, des municipalités québécoises de plus de 20 000 habitants. Cette recherche montre que l’effet financier du nombre d’élus est double pour les municipalités. Les élus ont d’abord un coût direct sur le fonctionnement du conseil municipal et la vie démocratique. Les dépenses des conseils municipaux dans les villes étudiées augmentent proportionnellement au nombre d’élus, suivant des coefficients d’élasticité entre 0,8 et 0,9. Les élus affectent également les dépenses publiques de façon indirecte par leur propension à ne pas internaliser leur utilisation des ressources communes. Cet effet sur les dépenses totales des municipalités peut devenir important, avec des coefficients d’élasticité du nombre d’élus pouvant atteindre 0,4. Malgré cela, l’enjeu du nombre d’élus demeure généralement négligeable sur le plan des finances publiques municipales, surtout en proportion du budget total.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2013s-38.

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    Date of creation: 01 Oct 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2013s-38

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    Keywords: Council size; local elected officials; municipal spending; municipalities; Quebec; Canada. ; Taille du conseil municipal; élus locaux; dépenses municipales; municipalités; Québec; Canada;

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