Friday, November 09, 2007

2007 Elections: Voters Look Bluer and Want Their Services

Stateline has the nationwide round-up on the November 6 elections, which showed Democrats gaining and suggested higher demand for services, but without the bite-the-bullet will to raise taxes to pay for those services. Is this an indication that placing every single tax increase directly in the hands of voters is unrealistic, since generally no one will vote to raise their own taxes to pay for the government services they have come to expect?

That conundrum presents itself here in Nashville, even without an election this week. I attended the Metro Water Services/Metro Council Stormwater Community Meeting a couple of nights ago in MetroCenter. The purpose of the meeting was generally to have Metro Water explain the current state of stormwater services to people and to field questions on their way to a February 2008 report and plan that they are required to submit to Metro Council. While they took notes and offered response on specific problems that people mentioned, my impression of the meetings is that they were not necessarily intended to get strategic ideas on comprehensive stormwater plans. It was mainly intended to be informative and to sober Nashvillians up.

And the information was sobering. Metro Water leaders made it clear that demand for stormwater services has been exponentially outpacing funding for several years, and outstripping demand only continues to trend up. Nashville does not have the luxury of doing nothing because if conditions are allowed to erode (so to speak), then they face federal fines that only compound over time. So, they are forced to improve water run-off conditions, but their back-log grows while they are nickeled-and-dimed by superfluous requirements like having to pay the Tennessee Titans 4 million dollars per year for the next 30 years.

It would be a wonderful world if services like controlling stormwater descended from heaven like manna without a price tag, but such is not our world. One wonders how long we can go on demanding blue services at a red borrow-and-spend clip.

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