City versus Town
Dan Weaver poses the strategic question to development: Editorial – Is the Sale of the City of Amsterdam’s Water to the Towns Contributing to the City’s Decline?
Although I’ve hit upon this before (here and here), let me answer the question again– the answer is ‘Mostly Yes’.
Yes, city tax payers have incurred the capital costs through our taxes to provide water to the towns to the exclusion of development in the city. With the towns subject to the city tax cap rules, they effectively shift costs to the city. If you doubt it, name one residential or commercial development project in the city in the last 10 years (excluding municipal projects such as Bridge St or Riverlink, et al).
Yes, the city has adopted a supporting role strategically to the towns. This why any notion of self-driven economic development or initiatives to drive development to the city are discouraged and scorned.
Yes, that is why you see such push back from the towns given the current reengineering of the fee structures.
Yes, that is why the city negotiates from a position of weakness versus the towns; it is also why the pundit class embraces the dissolution of the city and the subsidization of the towns to hasten dissolution.
Yes, that is why the notion of repurposing and historic preservation come second to demolition and building a suburban landscape to mirror that of the towns. F’ the city , we’re all one parking lot now.
Yes, that is why the financials and economics to the decision get cast as ‘confusing’ or ‘unexplainable’– if you actually explained it and informed the public, you would lose political leverage and to the towns, you would lose a bloc of city voters who , wholly misinformed and memed, would support the towns’ interests over the city’s.
All that said, let me step back a bit and state that the city does derive benefits from regional growth and the city should find opportunities to collaborate with the towns as there are ‘win-win’ scenarios for both. Yes, the city derives sales tax and other revenue from growth in the towns. However, I’d argue that for too long, the city has not protected its interests and indeed subjugated them to the towns at city tax payer expense disproportionately.
Ultimately, I view it simply through my interests as a city tax payer: why should I subsidize–in my gut disproportionately— the town with growth and development and lower taxes at my expense? Simple as that.