Introduction of Stable Duties of Tehran Municipality
Duties and municipal service costs
Under the clause 14 Article 71 of the Law on the structure, duties and Islamic councils elections and municipal elections, duties is a fee that the municipality collects from natural and legal persons in accordance with its legal authority to finance general and specific costs policies with applying incentive or disincentive policies. National duties should be approved by The Iranian Parliament and local duties should be approved by the City Council to be implemented after the due legal process. It is equivalent to local taxes, i.e. the funds that municipalities pay to the people for providing public services but its consumption amount for each person cannot be recognized and determined. The duties are divided into stable and unstable duties.
Municipal services costs
According to clause 71 Article 26 of the aforementioned law, municipal service costs (structure, duties, etc.) are funds that the municipality collects from service users to provide them with some services proportionate to their usage amount and with the approval of the City Council through the legal process. Municipal service costs are a steady source of income which will be programmable over time, could be increased and collected later and its amount and value per person could be identified and estimated.
Stable (income) duties
The municipality is a public institution whose duty is to serve the citizens to meet their basic demands for urban life and then try to achieve a developed city. Maybe half a century ago, the municipality was considered a cleaning organization in public mind. However, today the demands are sometimes so developed that they are even outside the job description and abilities of this entity.
Today, the most basic need of city dwellers is to have a safe, healthy, and beautiful city for living, which is comparable with the other cities in the world. However, huge costs are required to meet the very initial demands. Regarding the financial self-sufficiency of municipalities, the only way to finance these urban costs is the contribution of all citizens.
In a simple example, let’s imagine that you live in a multi-storey apartment with courtyard used by all residents and the apartment manager has decided to build a garden and plant flowers in it to enjoy the beauty and fresh air. Funding for the plan implementation requires the assistance and contribution of all the inhabitants. For this purpose, the total required costs will be estimated and each resident pays its share to contribute to the plan implementation.
That is how the urban plan implementation is carried out. The Municipality the director of which will be selected by people’s representatives in every city is responsible to fund the expenses required to do the tasks, meet the citizens’ demands and provide beautification and urban development and put its all efforts to properly implement them under the conditions we are facing with increasing development of urban population and area as well as urbanization provisions.
According to the municipal self-sufficiency policy that was approved in the 1983 Budget Law and the elimination of state aid, the municipalities’ main source of income suddenly vanished. Therefore, the only way to fund municipal costs was to receive each citizen’s share as the direct users of municipal services. Therefore, it will be reasonable that anyone who uses more services should pay a larger share.
Municipal incomes will be obtained from the people directly or indirectly in three following ways
1. General duties;
2. Specific duties;
3. Service costs;
However, the above-mentioned duties will not cover all municipal costs especially that of Tehran Municipality due to its capital features and it imposes so much cost to the city. In addition to the inadequacy of these sources of income, today we face with another problem called instability of sources of income, which is even more important than the lack of them. Thus, municipalities of Iran, especially Tehran Municipality are seeking for strategies to achieve stable incomes through which they can start and complete their constructional and service projects with peace of mind and ensure their executive and timely implementation.
The definition of stable income
According to the comprehensive plan of stable incomes, Tehran Municipality has been seeking to stabilize its income sources since 2007 and the comprehensive plan of stable incomes has been developed and implemented based on the visions of Tehran City.
One of the definitions proposed for stable incomes is as follows: those municipal revenues that have the following characteristics and to collected which necessary executive planning could be defined are referred to as stable income and has the following characteristics:
* Sustainability (stability and not to be subject to severe fluctuations at least in the short term)
* Desirability (that is obtaining revenue from that place leads to the promotion of justice-centered approach and it does not harm the environmental, physical, social and economic structures of the city)
* Flexibility (it can be the revenue base over a large time and could develop in line with the expansion of expenses to avoid financial hardship)
The stable incomes that currently exist among the municipal income include duties of modernization and urban development, businesses duties, annual duties of automobile, waste management service costs, etc. But unfortunately, the share of this income is, in general, a small figure and yet people do not cooperate enough to pay them. Certainly, if the citizens have a full and transparent knowledge of the costs for the maintenance and improvement of the city, they will gladly pay their duties for the prosperity of the city. They will be also more willing to participate and invest in renovation projects and urban development. Below, some duties and municipal service costs will be explained for more information.
Stable urban development
Taking steps to stabilize the municipal incomes would make it independence from the density income as one of the important sources of income. In the meantime, the state's share in the city administration will be identified and the focus will be on the infrastructural activities such as rail and public transport network and the people’s share will be determined as construction duties. Then, the construction duties could be determined in accordance with urban development regulations in a different way than in the past.
Stable income is one of the prerequisites for stable urban development and both of them require confidence-building and analysis of the costs and public participations. Stable urban development is the most important executive goals of each city and the minimum requirement for its implementation
One of the factors for lack of implementation of stable urban development is the instability of municipal income system. However, so many measures have been already taken to address this deficiency. For example, as already mentioned Tehran Municipality in the first step has developed the action plan in 2007 to obtain stable incomes and sent it to City Council of Tehran to be approved and implement it in the same year which can create a suitable perspective for decision-making system for long-term planning.