Ahead of the Curve – Trend 2: Mounting Fiscal Challenges for Local Governments
2nd part of the series … to view previous blog post – Intro and Trend 1: A Drive to Sustainability
Ahead of the Curve: How Leading Local Governments are Benefitting from Sustainability and Other Trends
Local governments are called to perform a delicate balancing act on a daily basis. They must meet competing demands of developers to reduce red tape while citizens demand greater transparency, maintain and enhance amenities while managing the immense costs of infrastructure replacement, and grapple with intangible global changes like climate change and immediate local issues like poverty. As if this were not enough, local governments must also coordinate emergency preparedness for their communities and do battle in court when challenged – not an unusual occurrence.
Sustainable development – “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – is a defining challenge of our time, but it is also a promising approach to solving complex, interrelated issues. Indeed, leading local governments, from Whistler to New York and Albuquerque, have embraced sustainable development as a way to live up to the strong visions of their citizens. These leaders manage trends proactively, identifying them and then “getting ahead of the curve” in order to ensure development is sustainable in the long term. To illustrate the benefits of sustainable development, this white paper summarizes six trends affecting local governments, and highlights leadership responses in a key area of local government activity: development review and approvals.
Trend 2: Mounting Fiscal Challenges for Local Governments
The maintenance of roads, sewer, water and utility infrastructure systems is essential to the functioning of our communities. Every community in North America is facing a dilemma of how to pay for the maintenance of their aging and crumbling infrastructure – most notably in our highways and bridges, which were largely built in the 50′s and 60′s. Municipal property taxes are expected to keep up the pace of paying for operations and maintenance, yet all municipalities are struggling to make this work. When declines in municipal tax revenues occur – such as with the sub-prime mortgage crisis – this problem exacerbates fiscal vulnerabilities, and deferring maintenance further compounds the problem.
Communities that are integrating their planning, engineering, building, operations and maintenance are able to find efficiencies. What is cheapest today vs. what is the best value in the “life-span” of a municipal investment? Leading communities are considering the full life-span of infrastructure, and working to extend existing resources by reducing waste and using more efficient technologies and processes.
Read “Ahead of the Curve” White Paper.
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