Sunday, July 21, 2013

... But That's the Unsustainable Part

Steven Rattner calls for a bailout of Detroit,
Many call for scaling back the city to fit realistic population projections. While logical, the potential for downsizing Detroit is limited because the city’s population didn’t flee from just one neighborhood; the departures were scattered, requiring Detroit to deliver services across a geographic area the size of Philadelphia, with less than half the population. Further cuts will surely come, but in some key areas, like public safety and blight removal, Detroit needs to spend more, not less.
If Detroit does not find a way to scale itself back, to empty out those largely abandoned areas with one or fewer households per block, it's going to have to continue to provide police, fire and utility services to those areas - and the cost of doing so will not only vastly exceed the minimal tax revenue generated from those areas, it will impede efforts to ensure better emergency service response times to other parts of the city, response times that Rattner notes are unacceptable ("Average police response times have reached 58 minutes, compared with a national average of 11 minutes"). If the issue of providing public services to largely abandoned areas is not addressed this time around, I suspect that the City's future includes a second bankruptcy.

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