Mayor Richard Brunst, of the City of Orem, Utah, has brought infrastructure to the forefront of his attention in a recent interview.
He says that to “continue in the future to have good roads, clean water, efficient sewer service and excellent police and fire service, it is imperative that we invest, reinvest and maintain what we have built and set up. This requires forward thinking, planning and a provision for funding.”
He says this because recently Utah Legislature has finally changed the way gasoline is taxed, a tax that hasn’t been raised since 1997.
Public reaction to this has been negative, but Mayor Brunst urges people to see the big picture.
“So while the population has put increased demands on our state and local roads, our motor fuel tax has remained the same, losing much of its needed purchasing power. I applaud the legislators who voted to provide needed funding to repair and maintain our roads. Cities and counties will be entitled to a percent of this new additional funding. Our local roads require a constant need for maintenance and repair, and this will allow for it.
Likewise, it is important we maintain our aging water pipelines. As our cities have grown, so have the demands on wastewater plants, water treatment plants, water tanks, stormwater systems, and pipelines.
For the future, it is important now to plan ahead, to make provisions for, and to move forward with maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure. For every dollar, we reinvest now it will save four to six dollars of replacement costs later…
For the future of our residents, our families, our friends and our city, I would hope that we may all work together to keep our basic infrastructure up-to-date, in good repair and be able to meet the demands of the future.”
It is great to see city officials identifying infrastructure needs and presenting solutions to the public.
Inframanage.com observes that basic water and sanitation services were originally installed to protect public health.
In the past, in some places, the Engineers tasked with installing these systems were referred to as Public Health Engineers.
As western societies, we have generally had good drinking water and sanitation for so long that we have forgotten what really bad looks like, and what it does to general community health.
Sadly there are many places around the world where this can still be observed, and the devastation that water-borne diseases bring to the most vulnerable in the community – the young, the sick and the elderly.
What we have ceased to value much, those societies would be happy to have the most basic services.
The same observation can be made for police and fire services.
Generally, we have such good service, such high caliber officers, and such dedicated public service that we have forgotten what really bad service looks like – and again, there are plenty of places in the world where the effects of the breakdown of lawful society can sadly be observed in all their horror.
Public services require supporting by taxes, property levies, fees, tariffs, and charges.
There is no perfect system for this charging (which is what we debate as societies), but there are plenty that does a reasonably good job, the gas tax being one of the ways to support needed road spending.
Mayor Richard Burst is to be commended for taking a longer term, forward-looking view about infrastructure, and being prepared to have the debate in his community about the investment needed and the right level of infrastructure asset management investment.
Inframanage.com wishes him every success in his infrastructure management endeavor.