Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Voting with your feet, or maybe your whole town

Apparently Saint Bonifacius, in Hennepin County in Minnesota, wants to leave the county and switch its allegiance to the neighboring county of Carver. In particular, the town does not like it's tax dollars going to Minneapolis projects or transit investment. St. Bonifacius doesn't feel like their taxes benefit them. They are probably right, and this raises questions of how to pay for public services. I don't think that the fringes do benefit from transit investment since they are not connected to the transit network, and if they are connected they only have a couple of links as access points.

But this seems like their solution is to gerrymand their way to lower taxes. Maybe we can avoid these problems if we focus more on use taxes and have clearer property rights over public services (i.e., the fringes do not have expectations of paying for transit until they are part of the system).

Conversely, the town can be compensated some other that satisfies their needs, such as faster snow plows and fire service. Ultimately, municipal boundaries rarely fit neatly with desired services. This is a major issue that needs much more research.

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