Scale and demand

Reading a piece on the Detroit Assessors efforts to reassess every property in the city really struck me – I don’t think this is at all unique to Detroit either, but the scale of effort required by our laws and necessary in order to support a productive, fair urban society is seriously out of wack with our local governments abilities.

Horhn said the city has 11 assessors for nearly 386,000 parcels. That’s 35,000 parcels per assessor, nearly nine times the state recommendation of 4,000.

We have a legacy of heavy state, federal and local legislation that requires different agencies to carry out specific tasks, but over time those requirements have evolved, grown (sometimes ended too) yet the funding for many agencies has not grown with the ask.  Short of some incredible and super reliable innovation, there is no way on earth that this assessors workforce can ever meet their mandate. This is one more case of the requirements never being met and the result is obviously not good for the city of Detroit.  As government slowly becomes more open, more such situations will be discovered, forcing us to ask more difficult questions about the way we do things, the expectations and the layered regulations that impact us on the local level.

Somewhat like the issues Oakland faces with a heavily reduced police force (in large part budget related) and increasing crime. There’s no way to do this without being smarter, much smarter. I’m not going to suggest that technology is the solution, but I’m sure that there are smarter ways to do things that do use technology, people and processes better!


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