Are your taxes paying for the cost of your street? Inspired by Strong Towns, Nitin Gadia has created an interactive mapping tool to explore the answer to this question in his hometown of Ames, Iowa. Nitin works for MapStory, an open platform for organizing our knowledge about how the world changes over time and space. This is one of his many projects.
We interviewed him for the Strong Towns podcast (scroll to the bottom of this post for that). First, let's start with the map:
You can explore it on this page, or, for a larger, more thorough version, visit Nitin's website.
The map compares property taxes with the cost of the streets abutting each property. You can hover over each plot of land and read exactly what its property taxes and street maintenance costs are, in addition to the ratio of one to the other. The color coding of the map shows red properties covering little of their maintenance costs, and green & blue properties covering 100+% of their costs. Unsurprisingly, the map is a sea of red.
Of particular note is the downtown, which you can locate by zooming into the middle. You'll see "Main Street" just north of the highway. It stands out for two reasons:
- The plots of land are much smaller than in the rest of the city. These are modest storefronts, most a few stories tall, occupied by nearly 100% local businesses.
- Almost every property appears green or orange on the map, meaning they're covering all or most of their maintenance costs through property tax revenue.
Nitin created this map with data from his city government, as well as the input of a civil engineer, which he used to calculate average street maintenance costs for each property. He also accounted for citywide costs in his calculations.
You can read more about his process here, and even read the technical documentation on how he created this map.
Listen to the Podcast:
(Top image from Nitin Gadia)