Sunday, December 6, 2015

From Business in Vancouver
Traditional infrastructure funding
throws money down the sewer

PETER LADNER Amid all the excitement about the Christmas bounty of infrastructure spending coming at us from our deficit-happy new federal government, it’s a good time to ask how we got ourselves into this infrastructure hole. 
Charles Marohn, the Republican civil engineer behind the U.S. Strong Towns movement, has an answer. He likens traditional suburban development to a Ponzi scheme. Tax revenues from low-density development don’t come near paying for maintenance and depreciation on costly infrastructure. He estimates suburban property taxes bring in only $0.04 to $0.65 for every dollar of liability. So cities embrace new developments to keep their cash flowing, or they go into debt, or both. At every stage, they pile on future liabilities.
“When people say we’re living beyond our means, they’re usually talking about a 40-inch TV instead of a 20-inch TV,” Marohn told Time magazine. “This is like pennies compared to the dollars we’ve spent on the way we’ve arranged ourselves across the landscape.” Municipal servicing costs in low-density sprawl can be 2.5 times those in compact, high-density neighbourhoods. Read more: Traditional infrastructure funding throws money down the sewer | Economy | Business in Vancouver

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