There are some HUGE potholes in the streets of Spokane this winter. Some seem like they’re twice the length of my tire, half the lane wide, and way too deep. According to this article, our city crews have filled over 160 potholes already this year, in the middle of all the plowing they’ve done. I’m sure the guys in the street department working their tails off — they usually are — but there are not enough of them to do all the work, if you ask me. They even laid off some street department guys late last year (on Christmas, no less).
I was wondering if there was a reason, besides poor money management by the government (which, in theory should be spread pretty far and wide among departments) that there seems to be less and less funding for our street department. Lo and behold, I found one. According to this FAQ from the Spokane Street Department, there are a number of sources of funding for our street department.
One of them that has got to be lagging lately is the Real Estate Excise Tax. The fewer homes get sold within the city limits, the less money our street department has to pave and plow. And according to this chart, the number of real estate sales per year has gone down by half in the last four years.
So that’s my conclusion: we have crappy streets because people aren’t buying and selling houses like they used to.