In each issue of The Municipal, our staff strives to present a sampling of issues, projects and personalities from various spokes of the municipal management wheel. We think that consistent diversity is important, because every department we cover depends on others to do their own work well. We work better together than we do separately. For that reason, we also pursue topics that are relevant to more than one department.
We have special coverage this month about reducing waste, reusing materials and recycling issues. Beyond those, we’ve brought you some considerations for creating a successful parking program; our safe driving series, which applies to everyone who gets behind the wheel of a fire tanker, squad car, utility truck or personal vehicle; a community planning process that attracts residents and builds value; and more.
Another story that we wanted to use last month, but had to put off, is the relatively new idea of “repurposing” materials. Repurposing takes products, such as used street sweeper brushes, plastic message banners and tarps, 55-gallon drums and synthetic turf, and uses them for another purpose, without melting them or using another energy-consuming process to actually form them into something else. Are you decommissioning a fire hose? Sell it for dock bumpers, home or municipal water pump discharge hoses or farm irrigation. We’ve also seen 55-gallon drums easily made into rotating composters. Used billboard vinyls can play a role in erosion control processes.
It goes without saying, though, that no repurposing measure is going to save any municipality the entire quantity of money needed for infrastructure projects. That’s why there’s considerable and widespread concern right now over a proposed tax cap on municipal bond interest proposed for the federal 2014 budget.
Fortunately, there’s pressure coming from all sides at legislators who have the power — and the obligation — to be discerning in exactly how they close those tax loopholes that they’re so concerned about.
Larry Jones, U.S Council of Mayors, recently expressed some relief that the leadership in Washington is grappling with several other major issues like the recently-passed farm bill, immigration and gun laws, which have proven to be higher priorities. Different versions of the tax cap bill are being discussed by the House Ways and Means Committee in addition to the Senate Finance Committee, and there does seem to be some hope that legislators are coming to understand the extent to which such a cap would curtail local ability to maintain infrastructure and build.
We’ll keep watching the news feeds and pass along any updates. Enjoy the fall.