Paying for court-ordered public works

How’s your city’s infrastructure? Is it something you are proud of, or is it something of a sore spot aesthetically and financially? Do you even know what we’re talking about when we refer to infrastructure? According to at least one city planning educator, the word is only about 35 years old. He says “public works” is the traditional term and he suggests it is better in that it describes the function and audience served.

While maintaining public facilities may seem one of the most mundane of government functions, most city officials will agree that it is often an important issue in voters’ minds. Yet, staying on top of such things as fixing streets and sidewalks can be expensive. It can be easy for such projects to be put off and the action defended due to a shortage of funds.

In recent years, however, some citizens have started pushing back against such arguments. as a recent article on CityLab.com notes, under the aegis of the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals have brought suits and achieved settlements that require cities to make sidewalks safer for everyone, including those with disabilities.

One story source, who happens to be a Texas educator, says the actions are not surprising. He observes that the ADA is 30 years old and that defendant cities have had decades to budget for and comply with the law.

So, the question this seems to raise is how can city governments facing legal pressure or the threat of it now fund necessary repairs?

Attorneys skilled in the legal requirements of municipal operations appreciate that the state of Texas doesn’t provide general-purpose aid to help cities with public services projects. That means finding alternatives for financing, especially if a city is under the press of a court order. Consulting the right counsel can help find the right option and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.