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An Analysis of Local Public Finances and the 2014 Local Government Reforms

Author

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  • Gerard Turley

    (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • Stephen McNena

    (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

Abstract

In this paper we set out to analyse changes in local government expenditures and income in the context of central government austerity measures, local government budgetary adjustments and, most especially, the 2014 local government reforms. More specifically we outline the effect of the local government reforms, and, in particular, the redesign of intergovernmental fiscal relations (namely, territorial rescaling, expenditure and revenue re-assignment, changes in central government transfers) on the local public finances. Using data from the Local Authority Budgets we examine changes to the main service divisions, income sources and cross-council variations in expenditures and income, pre and post the 2014 reforms. Our results show that local government fiscal changes and recovery lag central government patterns, a general shift from central grants to local own-source revenues, and cross-council differences with respect to dependency and selfreliance persist. The establishment of Irish Water and the Local Property Tax have, at least initially, made the local government fiscal accounts, and in particular the Local Government Fund, less transparent and more complex, making an objective and accurate assessment of local authority budgets more difficult than before the reforms. Earlier publication of the consolidated Annual Financial Statements of the local authorities is called for so as to ensure continued scrutiny of the local public finances.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerard Turley & Stephen McNena, 2016. "An Analysis of Local Public Finances and the 2014 Local Government Reforms," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 47(2), pages 299-326.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:47:y:2016:i:2:p:299-326
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mark Callanan & Ronan Murphy & Aodh Quinlivan, 2014. "The Risks of Intuition: Size, Costs and Economies of Scale in Local Government," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 45(3), pages 371-403.
    2. Roy Bahl, 1999. "Implementation Rules For Fiscal Decentralization," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper9803, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    3. Robbins Geraldine & Turley Gerard & McNena Stephen, 2016. "Benchmarking the financial performance of local councils in Ireland," Administration, Sciendo, vol. 64(1), pages 1-27, May.
    4. Gerard Turley & Darragh Flannery & Stephen McNena, 2015. "A Needs and Resources Assessment of Fiscal Equalisation in the Irish Local Government System," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 46(3), pages 459-484.
    5. Ehtisham Ahmad & Giorgio Brosio (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of Fiscal Federalism," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3584.
    6. Richard M. Bird & François Vaillancourt, 2006. "Perspectives on Fiscal Federalism," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 6953.
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    Cited by:

    1. Turley Gerard & Di medio Rémi & McNena Stephen, 2020. "A reassessment of local government’s financial position and performance: The case of Ireland," Administration, Sciendo, vol. 68(2), pages 1-35, May.
    2. Turley Gerard & McNena Stephen, 2019. "Local government funding in Ireland: Contemporary issues and future challenges," Administration, Sciendo, vol. 67(4), pages 1-26, December.
    3. Santiago Lago-Peñas & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Agnese Sacchi, 2020. "Fiscal stability during the Great Recession: putting decentralization design to the test," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(7), pages 919-930, July.
    4. Turley Gerard & McNena Stephen & Robbins Geraldine, 2018. "Austerity and Irish local government expenditure since the Great Recession," Administration, Sciendo, vol. 66(4), pages 1-24, December.
    5. Serhiy Shkarlet & Iryna Dolozina & Maksym Dubyna, 2019. "Budgetary Revenue Breakdown At The Local Level Of Public Administration In Federal Countries," Baltic Journal of Economic Studies, Publishing house "Baltija Publishing", vol. 5(3).

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