I am a firm believer that some goods should be public. I do not believe that my tax dollars are about providing *direct* personal benefit. I like redistributed tax policy. But it is hard to be a Rhode Islander, surrounded by government institutions that are failing, and feel good about the taxes I pay. Corruption and cronyism is a daily reality of government business. Some agencies have tremendous waste and inefficiency. Worse, many public institutions that are failing their mission and wasting money are actually woefully underfunded. 1
If more government institutions functioned like the Downtown Improvement District, there would be greater trust and support for government services.
Some of the best money I spend each year is the approximately \$200-250 that I send to the Downtown Improvement District (DID).
I live within a special assessment district in Providence that levies an additional property tax to pay for the ladies and gentlemen in bright yellow jackets that are a constant presence in my neighborhood. For a small tax each year, my neighborhood gets:
- substantial cleanup /sanitation services that removes the mountains of trash that can pile up during a busy night where college students, theater goers, restaurant patrons, nightclub patrons, tourists, and Waterfire visitors all converge on Downcity
- excellent landscaping including planting and pruning trees, maintaining flowerbeds, hanging flower pots on light posts, etc.
- responsive care of public property including removing safety hazards, e.g. removing the cement, waist-high barrier that had fallen on the sidewalk by my building that was a major safety hazard for pedestrians
- easily identifiable public presence in addition to cops that increases the safety and security of busy city street
- much, much more.
It may seem selfish, but honestly, this is the best government service I current receive. It is inexpensive. I am able to see a direct increase in my quality of life in Downcity. It clearly increases and protects my property investment. I get an annual budget that is fairly detailed mailed annually that explains precisely what my dollars purchased and how they will be used in the coming years.
When the currently dormant[^0] Providence Core Connector announced they would seek to use a special assessment district to fund operation expenses, I was all for it. Sure, a portion of my support came from the simple economics, but I would be lying if I did not admit that the wonderful relationship I have with the Downtown Improvement District was not a part of my consideration. The DID has provided an excellent model to Downcity residents demonstratingthe efficacy of using the greatest (but not sole) beneficiary of place-bound services as a revenue source. Does anyone really believe that Downtown would have doubled its residency from 2000-2010 2 if the DID were not around?