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Re: [columbia_heights] Money available to fund the Boys and Girls Clubs

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  • Richard Layman
    Re: surplus This is something I wrote a couple weeks ago on themail@dcwatch.com DC Funding Priorities and Needs Re: Len Sullivan’s (NARPAC) post [themail,
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 3, 2005
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      Re: "surplus"
       
      This is something I wrote a couple weeks ago on themail@...

      DC Funding Priorities and Needs

      Re: Len Sullivan�s (NARPAC) post [themail, February 13]: While it is great that DC has a budget surplus, and while proposals like taxing federal land are misguided and even dumb, the belief that everything is hunky-dory and there are few structural problems with the revenue side of the DC budget continues to be false. The primary reason that DC has a budget surplus is that money isn�t being spent on important and basic needs, particularly infrastructure, such as road improvements (as much money is being spent, there are still even greater needs), on maintenance of buildings in the DC government property inventory (most buildings, particularly historic buildings, are �under-maintained�), on cleaning streets and sidewalks (it appears that the DPW budget has been reduced in this area as I notice less frequent removal of trash from street receptacles), needs for WMATA in terms of maintaining the aging subway system (DC, along with area counties in Virginia and Maryland, provides the lion�s share of the budget for annual operations and capital improvements out of general fund monies), parks and recreation facilities, funding for cultural resources (historic preservation, City Museum, other arts and cultural activities), etc. These and other programs continue! to be funded at levels that clearly are not commensurate with the needs currently expressed and basic expectations for service levels. And I didn�t mention human services, public safety, and education, which comprise the bulk of the annual budget.

      Capital improvements. This doesn�t even get into the question of how the DC government chooses to collect certain tax revenues and where to spend them. E.g., while $300-$600 million will be collected to pay for the construction of a baseball stadium, imagine the same amount of money being invested in the realization of streetcars/light rail proposals embodied in the joint WMATA-DC Department of Transportation study, http://www.dctransitfuture.com. Bringing back streetcars would have a return on investment of ten to thirty times. Clearly, there are issues concerning DC government funding and capital investment priorities, and "eight years in a row of budget surpluses" doesn�t change this fact.

      DC is like most older traditional center cities (NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.) in that the financial needs, particularly for infrastructure, are far greater than current revenues. (It would take an entire issue of themail to explain that this is historical, a function of out-migration to the suburbs, the support of sprawl and the abandonment of the center cities through federal and state policies, etc., and it is generally understood by �urbanists� without having to explain it each time issues such as these come up.) Where DC differs from many cities is that the Federal Government/Congress has the ultimate say over the budget and revenue side, and said government has imposed restrictions that most any other city government does not have (Congressional tax exemption for Fannie Mae local taxes, taxation of commuters � 71 percent of the income earned in the city is earned by nonresidents, etc.). Proposals by the Bush Administration to reduce the amount of dollars and programs that typically target city needs such as the community development programs of HUD merely propose to extend the problem that DC has vis-a-vis the federal government to other US center cities.



      Richard Layman <rlaymandc@...> wrote:
      DC Funding Priorities and Needs
      Richard Layman,
      rlaymandc@...

      Re: Len Sullivan�s (NARPAC) post [themail, February 13]: While it is great that DC has a budget surplus, and while proposals like taxing federal land are misguided and even dumb, the belief that everything is hunky-dory and there are few structural problems with the revenue side of the DC budget continues to be false.

      The primary reason that DC has a budget surplus is that money isn�t being spent on important and basic needs, particularly infrastructure, such as road improvements (as much money is being spent, there are still even greater needs), on maintenance of buildings in the DC government property inventory (most buildings, particularly historic buildings, are �under-maintained�), on cleaning streets and sidewalks (it appears that the DPW budget has been reduced in this area as I notice less frequent removal of trash from street receptacles), needs for WMATA in terms of maintaining the aging subway system (DC, along with area counties in Virginia and Maryland, provides the lion�s share of the budget for annual operations and capital improvements out of general fund monies), parks and recreation facilities, funding for cultural resources (historic preservation, City Museum, other arts and cultural activities), etc.

      These and other programs continue! to be funded at levels that clearly are not commensurate with the needs currently expressed and basic expectations for service levels. And I didn�t mention human services, public safety, and education, which comprise the bulk of the annual budget.

      Capital improvements. This doesn�t even get into the question of how the DC government chooses to collect certain tax revenues and where to spend them. E.g., while $300-$600 million will be collected to pay for the construction of a baseball stadium, imagine the same amount of money being invested in the realization of streetcars/light rail proposals embodied in the joint WMATA-DC Department of Transportation study, http://www.dctransitfuture.com. Bringing back streetcars would have a return on investment of ten to thirty times. Clearly, there are issues concerning DC government funding and capital investment priorities, and "eight years in a row of budget surpluses" doesn�t change this fact.

      DC is like most older traditional center cities (NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.) in that the financial needs, particularly for infrastructure, are far greater than current revenues. (It would take an entire issue of themail to explain that this is historical, a function of out-migration to the suburbs, the support of sprawl and the abandonment of the center cities through federal and state policies, etc., and it is generally understood by �urbanists� without having to explain it each time issues such as these come up.) Where DC differs from many cities is that the Federal Government/Congress has the ultimate say over the budget and revenue side, and said government has imposed restrictions that most any other city government does not have (Congressional tax exemption for Fannie Mae local taxes, taxation of commuters � 71 percent of the income earned in the city is earned by nonresidents, etc.).

      Proposals by the Bush Administration to reduce the amount of dollars and programs that typically target city needs such as the community development programs of HUD merely propose to extend the problem that DC has vis-a-vis the federal government to other US center cities.



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