My view on the Allentown water privatization debate is that, on the merits it’s a bad idea. Municipal water privatization was popular for a while in some European cities but now we’re seeing some of those same cities re-municipalizing their water systems. It’s a bad deal. The best outcome would be for the city to sell the water and sewer infrastructure directly to the Lehigh County Authority.
What I really want to take issue with though is the idea that Allentown needs to do One Big Thing to fix the pension mess. It’s not worth selling the city-owned parking garages and surface lots because that won’t knock out the debt in One Shot! Cobbling together a package of lots of little pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms isn’t worth doing because that won’t deliver the Single Death Blow to the pension crisis.
I don’t get this. Why does it have to be one thing? Why not get as far as you can through pro-growth policy reforms and selling other non-essential assets, and then make up the rest by raising the land tax?