The Road Less Traveled: Case Analysis of the Intersections of Infrastructure Improvement Expenditures
Rosemond, Daniel, Public Management
It goes without saying that in the midst of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, the value of the U.S. dollar has never been lower. Table 1 shows changes in prices ot all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households. The rate of inflation has been calculated since 1913.
TABLE 1. Inflation in the United States, 1913-2008. Year Amount It Took to Equal $1.00 in 1913 1913 $1.00 1920 $2.02 1925 $1.77 1930 $1.69 1935 $1.38 1940 $1.41 1945 $1.82 1950 $2.43 1955 $2.71 1960 $2.99 1965 $3.18 1970 $3.92 1975 $5.43 1980 $8.32 1985 $10.87 1990 $13.20 1995 $15.39 2000 $17.39 2001 $17.89 2002 $18.17 2003 $18.59 2004 $19.08 2005 $19.73 2006 $20.18 2007 $20.94 2008 $21.57 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, database. http://stats.bls.gov.
IN 2008, FOR EXAMPLE, it took $21.57 to buy what $1.00 bought in 1913. Note that in 1920 this number was $2.02, and then it declined in 1925, a decline that persisted during the 1930s, showing the effect of the Great Depression when prices slumped. Prices did not pass $2.00 again until 1950.
The attention given to the use of tax dollars by the government has arguably never been as high profile and newsworthy as it is today. Every line item and expenditure is being questioned, and rightfully so. After all, taxes are the monetary means by which the provision of public services is attained.
Therefore, when tax dollars are used to fund a project that is used by a limited number of individuals, it can be argued that a public good is not being provided.
The project area in this case is composed of private subdivisions developed in the mid-1970s. Like many similar residential areas, these subdivisions were developed with the understanding that they would be self-managed through the vehicle of homeowner associations (HOAs).
The project area, part of Miami Gardens, Florida, is in excess of 220 acres of land, and it comprises three neighborhoods. Ii is noteworthy that many of the residential units in these neighborhoods are multifamily or townhouse units, comprising more than 2,000 households.
As in many suburban developments of this kind, the housing units were clustered together for a maximum unit-to-acre ratio. Although the roads were built to sufficient width to accommodate vehicular traffic, they did not meet required traffic standards to be considered a public right-of-way. These standards would also require appropriate drainage systems.
Also excluded in the original development was street lighting along most of the residential streets. Sidewalks in these subdivisions are also sparse. The roads within the project area function more as alleys than as public streets. Nevertheless, they are the only access--both pedestrian and vehicular--to the housing units in these neighborhoods.
The drastic decline of the housing market has not only affected real estate values but has also financially crippled many HOAs. …