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Thread: Village with 1,000 residents and $12,000,000 in the bank - what can they do?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries

    Village with 1,000 residents and $12,000,000 in the bank - what can they do?

    Here's something to ponder today.

    There's an incorporated village near me that is home to about 1,000 residents. The village has no downtown; it's been developed along a typical exurban model, with houses along farm roads. The village is out-of-the-way, and they don't want much commercial development.

    The village has a MASSIVE tax base, though; it's one of the highest assessed valuations per capita in the country. They provide many services that an equivalent rural town elsewhere in the county could only deam of offering; free central sewer and water, free trash pickup and recycling, free cable television, leaf collection, low cost electricity, great parks, a community center, and jaw-dropping schools.

    They've got $12,000,000 in the bank, and it's burning a hole in their pocket. They've approached me about how to spend that money; specifically, they're looking at additional services they could offer their residents. I recommended a few things off the top of my head:

    * Build sidewalks, and plow them during the wintertime.
    * Cadillac garbage pickup; twice a week, maybe with cans/hobos placed by the house.
    * Free high-speed Internet service.
    * Energy reduction program; free replacement of low-efficiency furnaces and water heaters.
    * Public art, although the opportunities for display are limited.

    So, let's say you've got $12,000 for every resident in your town in the bank. Tax refunds aren't an option. In all seriousness, what would you do with it? This isn't a hypothetical question; it's really a middle class but fiscally loaded town.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ


    $12,000 for every resident which may come out to $24,000 per household. Now that's a lot of extra money to spend per taxing property.

    I like the energy conservation/unit replacement idea.

    Maybe they could offer debt elimination assistance right after I move there.

  3. #3
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
    Jul 1998
    On the Mother River
    I would build a recreation center for free use, pool, exercise, gym, the whole shebang
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    So, let's say you've got $12,000 for every resident in your town in the bank. Tax refunds aren't an option. In all seriousness, what would you do with it?
    • Provide full and no-cost medical, dental, retirement and life insurance benefits to Village employees and retirees.
    • Fully fund municipal services for the elderly.
    • Free broadband internet access at local library and schools. Let residents and local business pay for their own.
    • Start with free home energy audits for any LMI housing to determine the demand, then consider free energy efficiency upgrades.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Aug 2001
    Rustbelt Incognito
    How far is this community from Lake Erie?

    I would acquire land - about 1,000 acres - and begin developing a wildlife conservation area and sanctuary. I would also build a nature education center. If that process is too ambitious, then I would use that money to fund about four full-time positions to run a local non-profit land conservancy.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    Buy each resident a Segway; they could be a car-free village!

  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    I like giff's suggestion. Free recreation center is a good idea.

    What kind of community is this? Is it full of wealthy households or of more diverse incomes?

    If it is all wealthy people, then I think the recreation center is best.

    if it has more income diversity, then maybe create or expand an extensive network of adult and child training programs.

    Also, free bikes for all the kids.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  8. #8
    Even though it is not an option, I would go for the tax refunds....

    However in keeping in the spirit of the question, I would use it for bike/pedestrian trails and to improve parks and recreation opportunities.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    The first thing I would suggest is a community survey.

    This does not sound like a community with struggling households, so skip the free handouts to the wealthiest group of Americans - seniors.

    Open space preservation, a community center, wireless broadband, and trails all sound like good ideas to me. They also need to look at future capital projects - utility needs, storm water issues, street reconstruction, etc., and maybe do some sinking funds for replacement of major equipment such as police vehicles, fire trucks, etc.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Aug 2002
    I like the open space conservation idea.

    Another idea would be to foster goodwill with their neighbors by using some of the money to help people in adjacent communities...

  11. #11
    Member Wulf9's avatar
    May 2003
    Near the Geysers
    It's doubtful that the people who serve the community can live there. How about some housing for teachers, police, planners, gardeners, etc. Those folks could then take advantage of the minicipal freebies and the excellent schools.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries

    Buy Land Now

    I agree with those who think this city should buy as much surrounding land and seek a credit for conservation easements. If this place exists somewhere and the people living there have any interest at all in saving their lifestyle, BUY LAND NOW EMPTY THAT ACCOUNT!!! Call it a park or put in dog parks or ball fields......If you don't do this, you may end up with a in the future.....

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Feb 2004
    on my 15 minute break
    Acquiring land would afford this community the greatest flexibility in terms of being able to "shape" the community's future - land could be used for parks or other public recreational facilities, conservation easements, marketed for special commercial/residential/mixed planned developments, location of emergency services or other public bldgs...the list goes on and on.
    I think the municipality would also do well to offer some additional services like maybe brush or junk pickup at certain intervals. Probably don't want to put all the eggs in one basket - would recommend pursuing a quiet long term policy of allocating a percentage of the budget towards land acquisition. As far as offering additional services, the municipality may wish to conduct a survey/poll of its residents and find out which services (if any) they would be most interested in. I know a lot of folks pooh pooh surveys, citing low citizen response rates but they do wonders as far as providing political 'legitimacy' (see, we just gave the people what they wanted...)
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Jul 2003
    SW-Coastal WA
    Gee, the obvious answer: hire someone full time for loads of money to figure this out for them. Look for a planner or, hmmm, person with "community building" skills -- and I don't simply mean "the built environment" part of community building. I guess that part might be called "a social director". Even if they only hired someone part-time.

    Then, like Cardinal said, the first order of business would be to do a survey or study of some kind. How can you even begin to answer a question like that without an information base of some type?

    Then a visioning process: what does the community want their future to look like?

    After that, you can get into the details of what, specifically, to spend it on. You have to know where you are starting from and where you are going before you can plan how to get there from here. (Duh!)

    EDIT: Oh, and don't forget: they probably desperately need a GIS.

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