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Costs

The debate about costs of the alternative Mayoral system is commonplace amongst the literature but it is difficult to establish, mainly because – if the system works properly – it is the mayor who decides what the priorities should be and therefore what the costs are. In effect, the costs could be significantly lower than the traditional council system or significantly higher. But what is clear is that the basic salary costs of a mayoral office are often significantly less than for an equivalent organisation in the private sector. In an IoG survey five of the twelve mayoral local authorities were planning to reduce the number of councillors so the costs need not be higher and may be considerably lower. Thus should a mayor be voted for in Birmingham the budget under her or his control would be £4 billion – a large budget under any criteria and one that would attract a much higher salary than the mayor of Birmingham is likely to acquire. Moreover, if we do not provide our local political leaders with realistic salaries then, ironically, we discourage many people from applying for the position – unless they already have significant capital to their name. This, of course, ignores the costs of the referendum itself – which could be minimised by holding it in conjunction with local government elections.