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Regional collaboration pays off for Kansas City with $50 million TIGER grant

The awarding of $1.5 billion in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants this week revealed the current administration’s changing emphasis on transportation-related projects.

The discretionary grant program, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, triggered a national competition for multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency and multi-modal transportation projects that were designed to lead to economic benefits for an entire metropolitan region. More than 1,400 applications were received that if funded would have cost $60 billion, far more than$1.5 billion available that was divided among the 51 selected projects.

Across the nation, 34 percent of the funds went to some form of public mass transit and 25 percent

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Analysis of city-county consolidations reveal various effects

City-county mergers in Indianapolis and Louisville are perhaps the two most high-profile mergers in recent attempts to improve government by reducing replication.

Merging the city of St. Louis with St. Louis County, or at least having the city of St. Louis join the county as another municipality, has been discussed for decades. This study looks at Indianapolis and Louisville to show the upsides and possible downsides of consolidation. Note too that the author is skeptical of tax increment financing (TIF) as a beneficial development tool that can help overall metropolitan areas.

In both cases of Indianapolis and Louisville, both suburbs and central cities were affected, though the impact was different

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The U.S. Food Environment Atlas

Check out the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service “Food Environment Atlas.” Calling itself a “spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so,” the atlas provides a simple map-based interface into a variety of county and state based information about food environment factors, such as:

Restaurant and food store proximity Food prices Food and nutrition assistance programs Community characteristics

By providing a spatial overview into these factors, users can get an understanding the complexity of food choices, diet quality, and food policy.

Besides creating simple maps, the site has advanced query tools, and data can be downloaded.

How does the St.

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Global perspectives on urban liveability put value on some St. Louis strengths

The story goes that the British foreign service, back in the heyday of St. Louis, would pay its embassy staff here a pay differential normally reserved for staff stationed in tropical climates. Apparently the summer heat and humidity of St. Louis qualified the British diplomats for extra pay just as if they were in Khartoum or New Delhi.

Well, the London-based Economist magazine, through its “Economist Intelligence Unit,” does a yearly ranking of urban areas in part to gauge if companies who transfer employees to cities need to pay a premium to those shifted to metro areas where living conditions are particularly difficult.

The EIU ranked 140 cities

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Less tax, tax rollbacks, and tax breaks lead to shortages

There is no one reason why municipalities, counties and states are struggling to pay bills, provide services and avoid laying off employees. Loss of tax income, a rising public mood against taxation, and developers pushing for tax subsidies they claim are necessary for new development combine to shrivel governmental budgets and shrink options on how to pay for basic civic services.

The economy is in the ditch, and that has a negative effect on employment, wages and sales tax revenue. With money tight, citizens tend to oppose tax increases and are lured into voting for tax rollbacks. Jurisdictions are looking for ways to trigger economic activity, and developers

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