The best financial strategies don’t lead with the numbers. They lead with vision. Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the host looks straight at you and asks, “How will you be paying for this?” as soon as you enter? No one does this (unless you want to imply that your customers can’t afford what you’re serving and you really just want them to go away).
To generate revenue for infrastructure, agencies have traditionally looked to either taxes or user fees (for infrastructure services that people have been accustomed to paying for, like water, or wastewater). Most grant sources for infrastructure cover only a small portion of the need. Yet grants can serve as the public equity in many projects, the early funding that enables the development of a financing strategy to attract more capital.
Priorities depend on each city’s unique situation. For example, some cities may not have the administrative capacity or bandwidth to handle implementation of a new funding source or financing tool, or have competing projects and priorities with greater importance. Those cities will prioritize administrative ease in selecting options. Others may be focused on increasing financial capacity, and be willing and able to invest in additional staff time and expense.
Financial strategies require a lot of upfront investment of staff time to deliver. The investment doesn’t stop at the point of implementation. Even after implementation, public agencies will face ongoing demands, including disclosure requirements, post-implementation evaluation, re-negotiations, economic changes, and revenue shortfalls.