Strong Towns Workshop

Chuck Marohn will be giving a 3 hour workshop covering issues of municipal finance, transportation and land use on Saturday, April 25 at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn Convention Center - 1001 Amber Ave, Stevens Point, WI 54482

Cost: $45    Registration is Required - Register Here

Session One: The Finances of our Places

Local government decisions are dominated by our desire to experience growth and create jobs, but what if these short term objectives are undermining the long term health of our cities? This session explains how the way we currently build and finance cities provides an “illusion of wealth” but creates enormous long term liabilities. Participants will learn how local governments can make high return investments and update methods for evaluating the financial viability of a project.

Topics Covered:

  • How horizontal growth creates an illusion of wealth for local governments, providing nominal, near-term, financial gains in exchange for enormous, long-term financial obligations.
  • How to identify a financially productive place, one that produces more wealth for the community than it requires in services and subsidies.
  • How to calculate the public’s return on investment, the actual dollars that the local government will have returned to it for the dollars that it commits to a project.
  • Developing an understanding of salvage value and how it is properly applied in the context of a local government project.
  • How grants, low interest loans and public/private partnerships impact the long term viability of a project.
  • How to build a strong tax base using an incremental public investment strategy that blends low risk / stable return investments with low risk / high return speculation.
  • Question and answer session with participants.

Learning Objectives

  • Be able to identify where the most financially productive places within a community are.
  • Be able to identify whether or not a return-on-investment analysis presents a short term or long term evaluation.
  • Be able to evaluate whether or not a public investment is truly viable over the long term.
  • Understand how small, incremental investments can be used to improve a city’s financial health and resiliency.

Session Two: Transportation in the Next American City

Investments in transportation have long been synonymous with economic growth and job creation. While this was often the case in the early days of highway building, that correlation is no longer guaranteed, especially at the local level. With road maintenance liabilities overwhelming federal, state and local budgets, a more strategic approach is needed. By understanding the difference between a road and a street, local governments can spend less money and attain better results, improving their financial health.

Topics Covered:

  • A brief history of highway engineering, particularly as it applies to construction of local projects.
  • An introduction to the concept of a stroad, a street/road hybrid, and why a stroad is expensive to build, unsafe to use and financially low yielding.  
  • How to build high performance roads. 
  • How to build streets that create significant financial value for a community. 
  • An understanding of congestion and how it signals different things for roads and streets.  
  • How cities can respond to congestion on a limited budget.
  • Understanding how the concept of a “Complete Street” fits into a financially productive road/street strategy.
  • Question and answer session with participants.

Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to identify a stroad.
  • Be able to implement strategies to convert a stroad environment into either a high performance road or a financially productive street.
  • Understand how to deploy limited public resources for the greatest benefit.
  • Have a context for consideration of “Complete Street” design approaches.