It has significant harmful environmental consequences and negatively affects the attractiveness of territories, particularly their recreational capacities.
Second, there became apparent the major avenues of the use of internal reserves becoming available due to the fact that authorities draw nearer to the population. Among the respective positive effects of the reform are the following.
1) The bodies of local self-government of settlements get incentives to mobilize the revenues generated by local taxes. At the level of settlements there is carried out the work aimed at the inventory of properties subject to taxation; work on the issues of registration of properties and prompt paying of taxes as concerns the population; delivery of tax demand notifications to tax payers; work with tax evaders. However, the current legal, normative and organizational system of tax administration fails to create adequate conditions for participation of settlement administrations in this process. As a result, activities carried out by different authorities overlap; spheres of responsibility of participants of this process and sanctions imposed in the case of the failure to exercise their functions are not clearly determined; there are not also organized information flows. Municipal entities lack the data needed to mobilize own revenues, as a result they are forced to keep their own registers of taxpayers, gather information on tax arrears and so on, in other words, they have in fact to carry out same activities as the tax authorities, which poorly cope with the administration of local taxes. At the same time, the tax authorities actually force upon local administration the exercise of some of their functions, for instance, the delivery of tax demand notifications.
2) Possibility to concentrate resources for the priority avenues of municipal development in the situation of the switch over from the estimate based financing to the budget based financing. A study of the budgets at the level of settlements reveals that the structure of expenditures significantly differs; it should be noted that whereas in some cases the priority is provision of urban amenities, in other cases it is culture. However, in the situation of a significant limitation of the independence of settlements in the budgetary sphere, the source of implementation of priorities is mainly the above-plan revenues generated primarily by local taxes, as well as better outreach with respect to land holders.
3) Possibility to use the potential of mobilization of resources being at the disposal of the local community for the resolution of issues of local importance. The use of these possi It should be noted that by no means all municipal districts have official landfills at all; however, it is a different problem not discussed in this study.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks bilities is affected both by objective and subjective factors. The subjective factors relate to the strategies of administration implemented in municipal entities. Basing on the results of the study, from this standpoint all municipal entities may be classified into four groups:
• Settlements trying to copy the methods of organization of administration characteristic of much larger structures: municipal districts, regions, and so on. It means the introduction of the administrative machinery, in the framework of which the activities of each municipal officer should be clearly specialized; there should be provided the full funding of the resolution of local issues from the budget of the settlement; in each settlement there should be organized own municipal enterprises, and so on. Apparently, such a system should inevitably bear significant losses resulting from insufficient scale of activities and experience permanent deficit of budget resources allocated for the resolution of issues of local importance, as well as bear a significant burden of administrative costs and other negative consequences.
• Settlements oriented towards the minimization of own powers and responsibilities to the population, as well as delegation of the overwhelming number of powers to the level of municipal districts.
• Settlements, carrying out primarily politically motivated mobilization of the local communities. The main goal is to struggle with district authorities, obtain the maximum amount of powers, properties, and financial resources, often notwithstanding the fact if the settlement is actually able to resolve all issues of local importance and if it is economically feasible.
• Settlements, where mobilization of the local communities is primarily carried out in order to ensure the resolution of issues of local importance and improvement of living standards in the settlements. Although political motives are also present, they are primarily related to the need to create conditions facilitating the improvement of living standards. By all appearances, this group of settlements is the least numerous one. It should be noted that this model of self-government could result only from a combination of rather unique conditions, for instance such as:
- Existence of a charismatic municipal leader;
- High level of education of the settlement administration;
- Existence of the economic basis and prospects of the economic growth;
- Existence of a structured local community comprising different groups of interests.
As concerns the objective conditions, they are determined by the existence of legislative prerequisites enabling municipal authorities to use the resources of local communities. It should be noted that such conditions are not favorable for municipal entities. The federal legislation either does not envisage certain mechanisms of mobilization of such resources at all (for instance, the involvement of businesspersons in the resolution of issues important for local communities), or over-regulates such mechanisms, what results in the fact that to be used in practice they require significant time and financial expenditures (for instance, self-taxation and labor duty). As a consequence, such mechanisms do not disappear, but used in non-legal forms. Thus, in spite of the absence of local taxes on businesses, in practice businesspersons have to finance vital activities of local communities; however, this financing is outside the legal framework and may acquire the form of “municipal racket”, what has a significant negative effect on business interests. Such a method as self-taxation is still used, but rather in the Section Institutional Problems traditional, customary for local communities forms than in the forms envisaged by the legislation159.
Therefore, there may be drawn the conclusion that the municipal reform resulted in certain positive consequences as concerns the organization of resolution of issues of local importance at the level of settlements. However, these consequences could manifest themselves only partially and in a limited number of municipal entities. The main factors limiting the positive effect of the reforms may be reduced to the following:
- Financially stable settlements disposing of economic bases and organizational capacities, primarily created prior to the launch of the municipal reform, are the main source of best practices;
- The share of such settlements is rather low, whereas the mechanisms governing the dissimilation of best practices practically do not work due both to the lack of sufficiently favorable conditions facilitating better awareness thereof, and the absence of the institutional framework of this process;
- The federal legislation fails to create favorable conditions for the implementation of best practices; moreover, they are rather often implemented in the forms not fully answering the provisions of the law.
Third, as concerns the inter-municipal cooperation with respect to the resolution of issues of local importance, these tools remained underdeveloped. It is not surprising in the situation, where the mechanisms aimed to ensure contract enforcement in the country are not sufficiently efficient and the risks of inability to resolve issues of local importance arising as a result of a failure to fulfill obligations on the part of a side of an agreement of inter-municipal cooperation are rather high.
* * * Our study revealed that in 2007, as compared with the situation observed in 2006, both positive and negative processes relating to the implementation of the municipal reform were more apparent.
As positive trends, there may be indicated the following:
• A greater number of regions implement the reform in full or show progress as concerns its implementation;
• There have begun to manifest themselves positive consequences of enhanced independence of settlements; as the major effects there may be listed the tendency of settlements to mobilize revenues generated by local taxes, use the possibilities to implement the priorities of municipal policies as a result of switching from the estimate based financing to the budget based financing, and attract of resources available to local communities for resolution of issues of local importance;
In this situation it is apparent that the amount and the structure of local budgets not always adequately reflect the actual amounts of financial resources used for the resolution of issues of local importance. It should be noted that without carrying out a special study, it is impossible to determine the size of discrepancies: according to the results of the study it may make from 20 per cent to 25 per cent. Such a situation is characteristic exactly for the relations with the business community, which may be characterized as “municipal racket”, i. e. the expenditures related to provision of amenities in the territories of settlements, as well as a significant amount of investments in the infrastructure, social and cultural facilities and so on are shifted on local businesses.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks • Urban problems have begun to play a more active (although clearly not sufficient) role in the sphere of municipal policies; there have started processes of formation of urban agglomerations of both monocentric and polycentric nature; the issues related to the ensuring of competitive capacities of urbanized territories both domestically and in the international arena gather in importance.
At the same time, the problems emerged due to the launch of the municipal reform or becoming more urgent in the process of its implementation manifest themselves more actively. As concerns this issue, there may be pointed out the following negative effects:
• In the course of the reform of the territorial organization of local self-government insufficient attention was paid to the objective processes underway in the system of population patterns in the territory of the Russian Federation, what resulted in the creation in the territory of the country of numerous unviable settlements, the potential of which does not permit to ensure the resolution of issues of local importance. In all probability, it may be assumed that over time this problem will rather become more urgent than mitigate.
• In the course of implementation of the reform there was registered the impact of certain factors resulting in economic losses in the process of resolution of local issues due to the impossibility to ensure the economies of scale at the level of settlements on the one hand and the underestimation of the transport factor as concerns the organization of provision of municipal services on the other hand. The uniform division of issues of local importance between municipal districts and settlements notwithstanding the density and pattern of the population results in inevitable losses. This trend intensifies even more due to the fact that many settlements try to copy the methods of organization of administration characteristic of much larger administrative units and are applied at the level of municipal districts or city orkugs. At the same time, possible compensation mechanisms relating to the development of inter-municipal cooperation and utilization of the capacities of local communities are underdeveloped and not always function efficiently.
• Many processes, the necessity of which is felt in the course of implementation of the municipal reform, have no adequate legal mechanisms of actualization. In particular, it concerns changes in the territorial organization of local self-government. As a result, the processes not clearly formalized in legal terms are implemented with apparent infringements on the legislation currently in force, and the common law begins to play a more important role in this sphere. Thus, the decisions approved by the population at referendums are assumed to be legitimate regardless of the fact if they were in compliance with the law and if an expression of the popular will was in principle envisaged as a mechanism governing the resolution of the respective issue. Due to the absence of local taxes on businesses, the participation of businesspersons in the resolution of issues of local importance in the territories of municipal entities is also to a significant degree carried out outside the legal framework and in many places acquires the form of “municipal racket”, what has a significant negative impact on business interests.
Certain barriers on the way of more efficient implementation of the municipal reform can be overcome in the framework of the current adjustment of the existing federal legislation.
These problems have been many times discussed in the municipal expert community; however, the respective amendments have been never introduced. Among these amendments are, in particular, the following:
- Simplification of the mechanisms of self-taxation of the population;
Section Institutional Problems - Extension of the legislative mechanism governing the distribution of municipal property between newly created settlements and municipal districts the municipal entities, which existed prior to the launch of the municipal reform;
- Introduction of the possibility to assign to municipal entities individual standards of tax rates at the expense of grants, which would be fixed for the medium term period, and without limitations on the composition of taxes160;
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