Tag Archives: city services

Our Deteriorating Public Services

I’m officially pissed.

The rant I’m about to embark upon was triggered by the City’s recycling contractor, Republic, which–for the third straight time–picked up everyone’s recycling except ours. We’ve had plenty of reasons to be less than enamored of the recycling program, which charges extra for the service (thus incentivizing environmentally irresponsible behavior). My biggest gripe has been the refusal of Republic to come down the alley, as our regular garbage pick-up does. Since we live in the city–the “hood”–that means we have to schlep our container down one alley, then another, in order to get it to the street. Not only is this inconvenient for elderly folks (and we’re pretty elderly!), it means that the street looks cluttered and trashy for two or three days, while cans are taken out and then returned to garages.

It isn’t just recycling. Regular trash pickup has gotten hit-or-miss of late. Crime in our neighborhood has increased to a worrisome degree–initially, the increase was mostly petty thefts, or cars being broken into, but more recently, people have been mugged and homes invaded while the occupants were still there. Scary stuff that we haven’t previously experienced.

When apartments being built a couple of blocks from our house caught fire a couple of months ago, it took IFD what seemed like a long time to arrive. That may have been an incorrect impression, but several people in the neighborhood reported a discomfiting wait between their 911 calls and the first truck. In those minutes, the blaze became a huge conflagration (we could feel the heat on our front porch, which is a good two and a half blocks away, and the flames could be seen for miles).

Not far from where that fire raged is a city park that–despite repeated promises–continues to shows signs of neglect. It has a very nice pool, but the hours of operation have been sharply cut back since it first opened.

It’s hard to remember that during the Hudnut Administration, streets in the Mile Square were swept every day. Now, from the looks of it, they aren’t being swept at all.

Part of the problem is management. Construction and especially street repairs drag on for weeks more than necessary (and let’s not even talk about the Cultural Trail segments that kept parts of Mass Avenue and Virginia Avenue closed for months on end while little or no work got done). Accountability for garbage collection is a management issue. But the major culprit is lack of money. So we have too few police, too few lifeguards, too few managers generally.

It’s bad enough that we’ve starved local government; it’s worse that we’ve actually built that starvation diet into our state constitution. Indiana taxpayers have spoken, and what they’ve said is that they don’t care enough about the quality of public services to pay for those services.

Unfortunately, we get what we pay for.

One of the unintended consequences of a city with inadequate public services and a deteriorating quality of life is that the people who can, leave.  And they take their tax dollars with them, triggering a cycle of further decline.

We aren’t there yet, but the signs are ominous.