Monday, February 02, 2009

Charlotte's pavement worsens

Among the topics at its retreat on Thursday and Friday, the City Council is expected to hear a report about the condition of the city's pavement.


If you've driven on city streets you'll probably not be aghast to read that the pavement's getting worse. And the cost of repairs is rising. The City Council, in its wisdom and its zeal never ever to raise taxes for anything, including police officers, for years has skimped on street repair money, and it's coming back to haunt the city as the maintenance backlog just gets higher.

Further, as people drove less due to higher gasoline prices, the state's gas tax revenues went down and thus, the state money given to the city for its care of state-owned roads (e.g. Providence Road) went down.

The link above is to a PowerPoint presentation, so it's a bit terse in its descriptions. But note the slide about the cost of annexation versus the revenue from annexations. Worth pondering.
I think the city's been wise to continue annexing, because cities that can't annex become financially and geographically strangled. But the revenue figures do set you to thinking about the degree to which sprawling conventional subdivisions simply don't pay their full weight in property tax revenue -- especially when so many of the new subdivisions in the past decade were low-end starter-homes.
Let me just note that higher-density and mixed use developments bring in higher tax revenues than the 3-per-acre autopilot subdivision growth which the city essentially waved into existence for decades.
The bottom line is that if you want to develop land, you can automatically do precisely the stuff that doesn't bring the city enough revenue to pay for itself -- single-family conventional subdivisions. But if you want to do something that might bring in more tax revenue, you gotta jump through a bunch of hoops.

13 comments:

Louie said...

Great points about annexation, Mary. It seems every time there is a headline about Charlotte annexation, it's about the negative aspects. By Charlotte being proactive about annexation, it's avoiding the pitfalls of what happened to Atlanta: ie- the city itself became hemmed in by surrounding cities, and can no longer grow or expand it's tax base. This has also equalled a disconnect between Atlanta and it's neighbors in regards to transportation, zoning, mass transit, density, etc. Hence the tangled mess Atlanta has become. I for one applaud Charlotte for being so aggressive in zoning, because it gives us more of a chance to craft our own future versus reacting to past bad decisions.

Anonymous said...

The city could have resurfaced the most deteriorated streets had they not gone hogwild a few years ago on pouring so much concrete and asphalt into speed bumps.

All that did was to eliminate many congestion-relieving through-streets. I doubt it slowed most drivers. I've driven down Seneca between South Blvd. and Park Road, where there must be 10 bumps on a mile and a half connector street, and slowed for each bump because my handicapped-equipped van is by design low slung, only to find a line building up behind me of those who just bounce merrily on their speeding way.

rebecca said...

How can you make a snarky comment about how taxes are never raised for anything(a lie) when your previous post mentioned a million bucks of taxpayer money that is being thrown away and that is probably just a drop in the bucket.

Anonymous said...

Well said Louie

Seriously said...

My guess is that Bill James hates taxes but loves roads (with no sidewalks). However, he also hates road maintenence, but nearly as much as civil unions.

Anonymous said...

I actually think our streets aren't so bad in terms of pavement. There is one area I think is bad and that is on Elm Lane past Bi-Lo. I wish the city would connect the curb and sidewalk on both sides of the street on that portion of Elm Lane!

Anonymous said...

Try living in a city where the lots are 55' by 110'long or around 6 homes to the acre. You hear everything the neighbors say or do!

Where the local radio stations have annual contests in winter to find the street with the largest pothole!

Where only the main streets are plpwed to remove snow.

The local authory reimburses 50% of the cost of tire replacement cos they cannot keep up with patching potholes.

Charlotte may not be the best City in America, however it is not the worse by any means. There are pleany worse cities in America.

Anonymous said...

Alleging that street conditions are worse because the city has not raised taxes in several years may be an illogical supposition. What streets are you talking about? Aren't most major thoroughfares like Providence, Albemarle, Monroe Roads, state roads? NC has a higher gas tax than any of its neighbors, so go figure... If you look at the Powerpoint presentation, there's no reason to think that per mile costs won't drop back considerably since the price of oil has tanked and contractors will probably be begging for projects. I do agree though that the sprawl/suburban infrastructure planning model is unsustainable. The further out you build and the more energy costs go up, the more unsustainable it becomes...

Anonymous said...

Annexation? What is left to annex? We just saw Charlotte dip way into Cabrabus County to take in 5000 homes up in Highland Creek.

What a lot of taxpayers fail to realize is who is making big money off these many decades of piecemeal annexation and of course is it the city lawyers who love it because it makes them 100s of 1000s of loot per annexation.

When will they change these liberal annexation laws in Raleigh? Obv the lawyers dont want them changed all over NC and are raping taxpayers for zillions in legal fees. Criminal.

Mary Newsom said...

To the poster who was complaining about Bill James, note that James is a county commissioner and in North Carolina, counties have absolutely nothing to do with street paving or road building. The city pays for some, the state pays for others. James is off the hook for that one.

Anonymous said...

If these sorry tax and spend bimbos succeed in geting our tax dollars from tax and spend Washington, God help us all! First, the liberal b-----ds SQUANDERED like there was NO tomorrow on BOONDGGLES LIKE CITYFAIR, AND UNNEEDED LUXURIES SUCH AS WATER PROJECTS, BALLPARKS, THE LIST GOES ON RATHER THAN ON NECESSITIES!

Anonymous said...

With increasing job insecurity, a depressed housing market, tight credit, maxed out credit cards, margin calls on home equity loans, folks will be really happy to hear that with five new museums going up downtown, the Arena they voted down, ImaginOn keeping the kids happy, the NASCAR entertainment center getting even more money, the loss on the sale of Spirit Square, Baseball "happening" downtown, a freaking cooking school sponsored by the taxpayer, a Lynx line to the mall formerly known as Eastland, the affordable-homes builders absconding with our money, and the Lynx line developer saying he's not going to make agreed upon payments, we just don't have the money to fix bus-sized potholes or pay the police to come and paper up the third car window smash and grab this month or find the wide-screen TV that hadn't even collected dust yet.

Sure, let's raise those taxes for frills like teachers, cops and roads, now that the necessities are all in place.

Jumper said...

From my experience in the construction industry, lots of the pavement problems are due to improper methods. Crews routinely fail to adequately compact subgrade soils, especially following sewer and watermain repairs. Also, sometimes the asphalt itself is not compacted with the rollers sufficiently.

There's also a foul strand of thought that runs through the minds of some people: that if things are done slightly awry, it will provide them with work in the future. I've seen this in plant maintenance as well: a half-baked repair will lead to emergency overtime later.

I wonder how much this attitude costs us all, where it exists?