Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Impact Fees make sense as White Flighters return

The New York Times reports that "White Flight" from New York City has reversed for the first time since 1940.

In population pockets, the same thing has been happening in Nashville as older suburbanites sell their large homes to move back to downtown condos to be closer to cultural amenities, sporting events and better health care.

It is this immediate trend that makes it imperative for elected Nashville officials to enact Impact Fees on all residential and multi-family construction to pay for the stress to roads, infrastructure and even schools.

The most striking thing from last night's town hall meeting at Stratford High School was the accounts of "separate but unequal" distribution of resources across Metro public schools. And "White Flight" can be blamed for that, as families of means left Nashville neighborhoods for the suburbs.

Now that some family members are returning to live in Nashville, it is only right that they pay for the privilege of living back in the city and supporting the infrastructure they deserted.

The Chamber of Commerce, which controls decisionmaking in Nashville and the what the news media publishes and broadcasts, does not want any discussion of Impact Fees. Any kind of tax is viewed as discouraging growth. That's wrong. So it is going to take extraordinary effort to get the matter of Impact Fees on the civic agenda.

Meanwhile, Nashville's affluent suburbs have had Impact Fees for two decades now. No wonder their schools are viewed as so much better. Revenue from such fees must go to school construction. So that frees up other school revenue for broader use in the district.

The next time someone complains about the quality of Metro Schools, talk about the need to enact Impact Fees on residential and multi-family construction. It is only fair as "White Flighters" return to the city. And it makes sense for a better future.

To read about New York City's demographic change, go to:


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