You might be wondering what has kept me silent of late. As you might know, I have been working on a book. The book is being published by the Canadian Tax Foundation and is currently titled Implementing Municipal User Fees. I am coauthoring said book with my colleague, Catherine Althaus, who has just successfully navigate the tenure and promotion gauntlet.
While we had completed a draft back in January, we have spent the last few months doing extensive consultations with municipal public officials to get their feedback on the pièce de résistance, a guide that leads officials through the steps needs to successful implementation of a user fee. This guide is based on extensive review of the economics and public administration literature as well as the case law. These consultations yielded informative and helpful comments which we just finished addressing and incorporating. We also had to go through the book from front to back and make it a cohesive piece, as well as comply with the publishers style guide. This is the least sexy part of academic writing, by far, yet so very important. One last review and we should be sending the book manuscript off to the CTF, who has been very patient with us. While the research was completed before I went on maternity leave, the bulk of the writing, re-writing, editing, reviewing and what have you was done while bouncing a baby in my lap.
I have also just been asked to present this work at the annual Tax Policy Research Symposium – Perspectives from Law and Accounting (see symposium tab). So the next week will be spent putting a package together for this conference, before I head off to the CEAs next weekend. This is my first conference presentation in about two years (I was not allowed to travel while pregnant due to complications), so suffice to say I am a bit out of practice.
In the meantime, I leave you with a very short summary of our book. Hopefully this peaks your interest:
The primary purpose of this book is to provide a detailed review of the existing academic literature and Canadian case law to highlight key legal, technical, and administrative issues that present design and implementation challenges for user fees for Canadian municipalities. The work provides an analysis of the economic, legal, and public administration considerations and integrates these to derive design and implementation lessons that apply both to jurisdictions contemplating user fees and those willing to undergo reviews of already implemented user fees. These implementation lessons lead to a presentation of an ex ante smart practice user fee implementation guide. In presenting this guide, it is our hope the “missing link” of implementation will begin to be filled and implementation of user fees will prove a more successful exercise, suitably balancing competing interests of economics, law, and public administration.