Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Atlanta vs. Dallas

I was speaking with somebody who recently moved to Atlanta this weekend and was back in town. I was shocked when he told me there were only about 450,000 ATLiens within a metro area of 5 million.

Think about this another way, that means Atlanta has the burden of infrastructure for 5 million people but a tax base of only a slight fraction of that. In other words, the core cities are hollowed out by the various infrastructure to support the region. Then those core cities have to bear all the various burdens of that infrastructure such as the pollution, cost of maintenance, safety, and overall undesirability of proximity.

So I looked up the real numbers:

Atlanta population: 416,000
Atlanta Metro: 5.2 million

Dallas population: 1.2 million
DFW metro population: 6.3 million

If we're comparing the burden to tax base ratio, Atlanta's is 12.5 to Dallas' 5.25. But, it's also worth noting that DFW's metro population is split by two centers, Dallas and Fort Worth. When you add FW's population of 740,000, that means the DFW metro infrastructural burden to tax base ratio is only 3.25. *

Considering these are two of the highest highway capacity per capita cities, that's a lot of coin. And we wonder why our infrastructure is failing. But furthermore, wow is Atlanta potentially in for a rough ride when the maintenance bills start coming due.

* However, it is worth noting that this is a very simplified calculation and isn't fully applicable to other metros, such as Houston which annexes just about everything around it and therefore would have closer to a 1:1 burden to tax base ratio.