Managing Cities’ Assets

Posted December 05, 2013 kmcgovern

Building infrastructure and new buildings and providing residents with public assets (parks, cemeteries etc) provides politicians with photo opportunities that mark them as contributors to the future growth of the economy and the future quality of life of a city’s residents.

Economists have asserted that capital investment, of itself, creates growth. But is this so? Especially if the revenue of the city is not sufficient to maintain these assets so that citizens can enjoy the benefits of them.

This paper looks at the underlying assumptions that “capital investment is good” and questions how cities can demonstrate to their citizens that the services for which they pay are being provided to an acceptable standard. When a city designed and built its own assets, this was a challenge. Now that private firms are building and operating assets in cities, how can politicians demonstrate their contribution to the residents who elect them?

Are city governments now merely enablers for private sector activity, rather than providers of services? This paper examines these issues and considers the capacity that city administrations must build if they are to continue to be relevant to residents.

Read the full paper here: Managing Cities_McGovern_Final

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