Transparent Local Accounting - Case Studies and Examples

John Pattison
John Pattison
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"The Numbers Don't Lie"

An exploration of tax value per acre in Kansas City, Missouri, shows just how foolish some of our biggest local investments have been—and how powerful some of our smallest can be.

"This Is Why We Need to #DoTheMath, Even on 'Small' Projects."

A Strong Towns member digs into street improvement costs in his city of McKinney, Texas, and finds out the long-term implications of these spiraling expenses.

"I Did the Math on My Town’s Cul-de-Sacs. Here's What I Found."

Inspired by Strong Towns, one advocate decided to investigate the math behind culs-de-sac in his town of Gallatin, Tennessee.

"The Little Law Office That Could"

In Peoria, Illinois, one tiny building is punching way above its weight when it comes to tax value per acre, and it offers important lessons for the way we should be developing in our cities.

"Lafayette Pipes and Hydrants"

This simple but damning graphic shows how cities like Lafayette, Louisiana, have built way beyond their means.

"What If You Built Hundreds of Miles of Roads and Nobody Came?"

In Palm Bay, Florida, city officials asked geoaccounting firm Urban3 to perform an in-depth analysis of the mismatch between the city’s tax revenue and liabilities, and show how their city might be able to recover from the ramifications of an extreme embrace of auto-oriented development.

"Your City's Wealth Isn't Where You Think" (English and Spanish)

Not only are small investments in poor neighborhoods the lowest risk, highest returning way for a community to build wealth, they are also the best way to lift people out of poverty without displacing them from their neighborhood. This case study from Lafayette, Louisiana, shows why.

"Kansas City's Fateful Suburban Experiment"

A data-driven look at Kansas City, Kansas's, growth over time, and its history of annexing land on its outskirts helps make clear the magnitude of the transformation that this city, and so many others, underwent. It is a transformation whose painful consequences haunt us today.

"Dispatches from Spokane: Living a Soft Default"

Spokane, Washington, provides a case study in the slow, painful decline that happens when we go all-in on the suburban experiment.

"Cobb County: Addicted to Growth"

Cobb County, Georgia, is a classic example of a region totally invested in the Growth Ponzi Scheme, with devastating results. This five-part series tells the whole story.

"A Texas-Sized Pavement Problem"

Collin County, Texas, illustrates what happens when roads expansion happens unchecked, with no plan to pay for it.

"Still Pursuing Classic Approaches. Still Going Nowhere."

Brainerd and Baxter, Minnesota, are two cities offering an illuminating comparison in the difference between the traditional and suburban development models.

"Who's Subsidizing Who?"

Strong Towns member and elected official Anthony Kalvans took an in-depth look at the tax value per acre in his town of San Miguel, California. This research helped him to see that the suburban style developments in his community were costing far more than they were contributing to the city budget, and he shared this crucial information with fellow San Miguel leaders.

"No Manifest Destiny: Doing the Math on Urban Growth Boundaries"

Cities aren’t exempt from the iron laws of accounting: if you’re spending more than you make, eventually you’ll be underwater.

"WhoPaysfor Growth in Collier County, Florida: Part 1"

In this series, we look at Collier County as a case study for how insolvent growth persists in Florida. What's the history behind Collier’s development, and where is it headed?

"Who Pays forGrowthin Collier County, Florida: Part 2"

Collier County's standards for new development on rural land repeatedly emphasize “innovative” growth...but when we look at their proposed mega-developments, it's really just business as usual.

"Who Pays for Growth in Collier County, Florida: Part 3"

Collier County is poised to spend over $200 million extending utilities to a whole new, previously rural, portion of the county. We #DoTheMath on this plan.

"Who Pays for Growth in Collier County, Florida: Part 4"

New suburban development creates budget-devouring road liabilities. And the way developers are asked to mitigate their traffic impacts is only making the problem worse.

"Who Pays for Growth in Collier County, Florida: Part 5"

Technocratic growth management in Florida has failed, and a new conversation is needed. We start that conversation in this piece.


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