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Friday, June 25, 2010

Madison's Next Subsidy: Downtown, Pavement, Utility Bills

The latest Madville Times poll shows readers split on what the ever-generous City of Madison should subsidize next. With handouts recently to Madison Farmers Elevator, East River Electric, Inter-Lakes Community Action Program, Rosebud, and James River Equipment, it seemed logical to ask what important project deserves the next round of funding from the City Commission. The five options presented in the Madville Times poll drew a divided response from 61 readers:
  1. Renovating downtown storefronts: 16 votes (26%)
  2. Paving gravel streets: 15 (24%)
  3. Reducing utility rates: 15 (24%)
  4. Building wind turbines: 8 (13%)
  5. Restoring Masonic temple: 7 (11%)
Votes were evenly split among the top three suggestions. A quarter of respondents would like to renovate our downtown storefronts, perhaps by ripping out the chintzy tin work and other shoddy signage and restoring some of that lovely old brick work, not to mention looking up and fixing the old architecture that's crumbling all along the second level of our downtown buildings.

Another quarter would like to pave our gravel streets—as my mother has pointed out, folks on those gravel streets have paid for curb and gutter; they deserve some effort by the city to civilize the rest of their street.

Another quarter say everyone in Madison should get a subsidy in the form of a reduction of their utility rates. I'm actually surprised more readers didn't mark this option, given that the city raised electric rates 10% in this year's budget. I find it interesting (and heartening!) that, amid the din of the 9-12 Project hollering for smaller government, three in four readers are willing to keep paying their bills and directing their tax dollars toward projects to benefit the general welfare. (Then again, my sample consists of Madville Times readers, who surely include a disproportionate number of Communists and other unsavory elements, right? :-) )

The remaining quarter are split between providing incentives to build wind turbines around town and getting the Masonic temple back into shape. Alas, I'd like to see the Masonic temple at the top of that list, but that's why we have the discussion, to find out where the popular will lies. Too bad local government doesn't do more of that.

Thanks for voting, dear readers! Stay tuned for more fun, exciting, and locally relevant polls throughout the summer!

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