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Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael

Question Number Five

I. Introduction
The urban expansion since last century has resulted in functional regions that expand far
beyond administrative jurisdictions forming a metropolitan area, which loosely defined as
multi-centered urban regions which develop mainly along functional networks, cutting across
institutionally defined territorial boundaries (Kübler & Heinelt, 2002, p. 1). These
metropolitan areas are faced with global competition, fiscal disparities, urban sprawl,
congestion, pollution and so on (Slack, 2007). These require regional level governance to
make the regions globally competitive in the knowledge economy and address challenges
faced by the region (Bird & Slack, 2004). In general there are many forms of metropolitan
coordination; however, for the sake of this paper I discuss the two arrangements
thoroughly only. In so doing I will describe what each one entails and point out its pros and
cons. I, finalize my discussion by suggesting a framework of metropolitan governance that
enhances internal coordination.

II. Metropolitan Government


The metropolitan reform tradition argues that existence of autonomous jurisdictions in a
metropolitan area is an obstacle for efficient equitable organization of service delivery;
hence it promotes consolidation of local governments to form Metropolitan Government
(Kübler & Heinelt, 2002, p. 3). The model posits that metropolitan governance can work
only through the direction supplied by a single dominant unit of government (Oakerson,
2004). It theorizes that institutional arrangements to manage a certain metropolitan area
should match the social and economic influence area of the urban region. This is why they
argue for a metropolitan government, which is an organized political entity with higher
autonomy and executive powers over the area (Kübler & Heinelt, 2002). Lefèvre (1998,
p.2), identified democratic legitimacy emanated from popular election, menaingful
autonomy from higher and lower level governemnet bodies, wide ranging jurisdiction, and
constitution of the fuctional urban area as the basic feature of metropolitan governments.
Therefore, they argue that establishment of such a centralized government organization
will control urban sprawl, streamline service delivery across the region, address the issue
of externalities and achieve higher levels of equity in resource distribution and public
service delivery (Norris, 2001).
Advantages Metropolitan Government
a. Efficiency: large governments are believed to produce and provide certain services
with least cost due to the economies of scale of a large territory and huge population
(Lefèvre, 1998). It is economic theory that the unit cost of production of goods and
services will reduce as the quantity produced increases. Hence, producing services
at a larger metropolitan level, rather than at a small municipality level, will reduce
unit cost of services thereby achieving efficiency.
b. Equity: the formation of one governmental body to coordinate the public service
delivery across the metropolitan region will help in distribution of resources in an
equitable fashion and ensure equal access to services for the residents in different
jurisdiction (Norris, 2001; Lefèvre, 1998).
c. Effectiveness: formal government with authoritative power can better achieve
development objective at the metropolitan region level (Norris, 2001) than
fragmented jurisdictions.
d. Avoiding of Duplication of Efforts: If there is one governmental body at the center
responsible for coordination of public service delivery and supervision of lower
level of governments (Bahl & Linn, 1992), it will help to avoid duplication of efforts
by different local governments (Lewis, 2004).
e. Internalizing of Spillovers: the establishment of a metropolitan governments will
help to absorb negative and positive externalities. It is obvious that some
development activity in one administrative area will have an externality on other
usually neighboring districts. However, the establishment of a metropolitan
government will help to enhance the production positive spillover from on
administrative area to the other while minimizing and compensating negative
externality produced by one local government to the other within the limits of the
metropolitan area (Norris, 2001; Dente, 1990).
f. Tax Sharing and Creditworthiness: since the cost of the service provided is shared
across the whole metropolitan area poorer municipalities will not be punished by
higher tax, cross-subsidization will be possible. Apart from this the larger taxable
capacity of the government the better chance it will have to borrow and to recover
loans (Bahl & Linn, 1992).
g. More Democratic: large government structures are more democratic since the
larger the government the lower the chance it will be controlled by few people. The
higher the scale of the government the more wide the political field will be hence
allowing more competitive politics (Slack, 2007). In addition, the level of corruption
is also believed to be less at higher level governments compared with smaller
governments, since any wrongdoing is more visible and attracts more attention than
smaller areas (Lefèvre, 1998).
h. Enhance Competitiveness: bigger and institutionally organized urban regions are
more competitive than fragmented small urban areas (Norris, 2001). This is so
because a larger metropolitan area will have large factors of production (land,
human resource and financial capital) and huge market. Hence it is more
competitive than smaller fragmented jurisdictions. The success of Greater Helsinki
Region (GHR) can be attributed to the amalgamation of the region (OECD).

Disadvantages Metropolitan Government


a. Less Competition among Local governments: the establishment of one
metropolitan government will put an end to the benefits of competition among
municipalities (Anas, 1998). If there is a competition among contiguous
municipalities, they will vie to attract investors, employees and residents. In so
doing they will be more livable and lucrative to do business. However, the
establishment of centralized metropolitan government will undermine this.
b. Top-down: it is a top down management and does not give room for other actors to
participate (Oakerson, 2004). Usually these metropolitan governments are imposed
by the central government. It diminishes their autonomy and is less customized to
their needs (Oakerson, 2004). Hence they lack legitimacy, which gave rise to
opposition from the local governments, pressure groups and ordinary citizens
(Lefèvre, 1998), the resistance to the establishment of such governments in US,
Italy, UK and France particularly good examples (Lefèvre, 1998; Briffault, 1996).
c. Monopolistic Orientation: the metropolitan area government is the sole provider
of public services in the urban region; hence this might compromise its efficiency in
delivery of those services (Lewis, 2004).
d. Less Responsive: services provided by metropolitan governments will be less
responsive to citizens need since the government is located far away and is
centralized bureaucratic organization (Ostrom, Tiebout, Warren, & Robert, 1961).
e. Lacks Identity: the rationale that the metropolitan government is established is
purely functional one (efficiency, economies of scale, etc) hence it underestimates
the socio-political identity of the spatial units (Lefèvre, 1998).
f. The FUR is Dynamic: Over time, economic boundaries tend to expand; however,
political boundaries are much more difficult to modify from time to time (Slack,
2007).

III. Voluntary Association


Voluntary cooperation is minimal government organization in which there is an area-wide
body based on voluntary cooperation between existing units of local government in the
agglomeration with no permanent, independent institutional status (Sharpe, 1995 quoted in
Slack, 2007). This perspective influenced by new regionalism theorist (Frisken & Norris,
2001) disregard the significance of authoritative central government and recognize the
multiplicity of actors in shaping the metropolitan growth, focusing more in governance
than government (Oakerson, 2004). Therefore, it promotes soft power or voluntary
cooperation among autonomous local governments, private sector, interest groups and
citizens that act based on contractual relationships; the Italian accordi di programma
(program agreement), American Growth State Management and urban communities in
French are good examples (Lefèvre, 1998). This arrangement not only focuses on
independence of governmental unities, however, it also emphasizes the importance of
interdependence among them that gives room for metropolitan governance (Oakerson,
2004). Moreover, this arrangement will allow levying a tax or user fees, and fixing
contribution from the municipalities in order to deliver services. All in all this arrangement
will allow the local governments to deliver service at metropolitan scale without the need
for amalgamation (Bird & Slack, 2004)

Advantages of Voluntary Cooperation


a. Bottom up and Inclusive: the voluntary approach to metropolitan governance is
established by full willingness of local governments and involves key stakeholders
in the metropolitan area (Lefèvre, 1998). This will help to make it more sustainable
since the actors involved have interests from the cooperation; it is high likely that
they will be committed to sustain it. In addition, this will give a room for more
negotiation among actors involved and coming up with solutions that benefit all
(Kübler & Heinelt, 2002).
b. Efficiency: this arrangement will help the establishment of regional special purpose
bodies to deliver metropolitan level infrastructural service delivery, which will take
advantage of economies of scale of region (Lefèvre, 1998). The Hence, it will help to
achieve efficiency in service delivery while maintaining the municipalities’
autonomy on tax collection (Slack, 2007).
c. Maintaining Autonomy and Identity: in voluntary cooperation arrangement each
administrative jurisdiction has its own autonomy and maintains its local identity
while they are engaged in metropolitan level of service or infrastructure production,
the case of Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) is an a good example (Bird
& Slack, 2004).
d. Flexible Organization: area wide easy to establish politically since it is based on
mutual interest and it is also easy to disband when found unnecessary. It is
incremental, non-threatening to the actors involved and capable of growing by trial
and error (Savitch and Kantor, 2002 quoted in Slack, 2007). Each municipality is free
to join and to leave the cooperation (Bird & Slack, 2004).
e. Economic Competition: this arrangement will help the metropolitan area to
compete at global level rather than among municipalities within. By creating
networked urban region this approach will help the involved municipalities to
compete in group rather than individually (Slack, 2007).
Disadvantages of Voluntary Cooperation
a. Accountability Problem: the voluntary organized metropolitan governance is a
cooperation agreement, which is not legally binding and can be sustained so long as
the parties are committed. If few or all parties does not work based on their
agreement, they are not going to be held accountable, unlike popularly elected
metropolitan government (Slack, 2007).
b. Only Works when there is Convergence of Objectives: voluntary cooperation
only works when there is a shared policy objective by all municipalities involved,
however, in cases where there are divergent priorities among municipalities it is
hard for cooperation to emerge (Slack, 2007).
c. Asymmetry in Capacity among Municipalities: even though voluntary
cooperation emerges and will be sustained by bargaining and negotiations among
the municipalities involved, all the municipalities might not have equal capacity to
bargain (Slack, 2007). Hence there will be losers in the cooperation.
d. Temporary Organization: the problems that each metropolitan region faces (such
as global competition, urban sprawl, fiscal disparities, etc) require permanent
institutional structures to address them. However, in voluntary cooperation lacks
permanent status (Slack, 2007).
e. Lacks the Authority and Difficulty in Organization: since the cooperation is
voluntary based the association fails to enforce its plans since it lacks the
authoritative mandate to enforce and heavily rely on the partners will, which
cripples the cooperation (Norris, 2001). In addition, it is very difficult to organize
(OECD). For instance, in case of GVRD the regional organization comes up with
Master Plan in 1994 to limit urban sprawl and construct rapid transit failed to
materialize due to lack of commitment from participating municipalities (Bird &
Slack, 2004).
f. Little Consideration for Redistribution: in voluntary cooperation the major
concern is enhancing functional efficiency with little or no regard for redistribution
of wealth from richer municipalities to the poor ones (Bird & Slack, 2004).

IV. Suggestion for Metropolitan Coordination


I personally share the idea of Bird and Slack (2007) that there is no clear cut prescription
which type of metropolitan governance works well. The suitability of metropolitan
governance, according to them, is context specific since it is affected by political,
administrative, legal and financial issues. However, based on the aforementioned
discussions, I will try to suggest a mixed framework that enjoys from the benefits of both
arrangements avoids weaknesses of each is a better option for area-wide organization.
Therefore, I propose an arrangement that has the participatory and bottom up approach
feature of the voluntary cooperation with the enforcing power of the metropolitan
government approach.
The mixed approaches works by letting municipalities establish a super-agency with
planning, developing and delivering functions at the metropolitan level on voluntary basis.
This super-agency will have the discretion to plan, deliver and manage metropolitan level
services like inter-municipal transportation, water supply, waste management, regional
planning, environmental protection, city marketing, etc. It has also to harmonize urban
development plan of each municipality across the metropolitan region through negotiation
and persuasion. It should be with full consent and interest that the municipalities delegate
to the supra-municipal authority to functions at the regional level on their behalf, only
when they found it important for their municipality.

This agency will be governed by the board constituting of mayors of each local government
and the day to day activity will be taken care of by professionals. Decision should be
reached through intensive negotiation and consensus. However, once decision has been
reached unanimously, it should be legally binding to the member local governments. In
order to attract the autonomous local governments to join to the metropolitan authority,
the central government should transfer unconditional grants to this body so that the
agency addresses common metropolitan challenges. Apart from transfers it should also
finance its activities from user charges and other financial sources, and should be
recognized as official legal entity in order to take loans from the public and private sector
capital projects. On top of coordinating municipal functions, the agency is responsible to
involve non state actors (like private sector, interest groups, NGO, etc) in decision making
and service delivery as well as steer their collective action at metropolitan level. It should
have to play an organizing capacity role in bringing key actors at metropolitan level to
define vision of the area and synergize their the activities to make the region competitive
(Berg & Braun, 1999) Finally, this agency should always invite new municipalities which
will be added in the functional area as the region expands. This arrangement embraces
voluntary basis negotiation and flexible organization of the voluntary cooperation, and
strong coordination, authoritative decision and economies of scale of metropolitan
government.
References

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