KRM (Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee) train advocates will tell you that the projects initial investment and the projected annual operating losses are nonetheless worth it because Racine will be a more wonderful place to live and therefore property values will rise and we will all be richer and happier as a result. Perhaps there is a way to allow KRM supporters to bet on their assumptions.
Suppose we allowed KRM supporters to agree to fund the project with an initial increase in THEIR property taxes. Once the project is paid off with their taxes, they could recoup their investment with their increased property values. To sweeten the pot, their property could be taxed at their pre-KRM value until their initial tax investment is paid off. Heck, we could even allow them to profit even further, as it is they who would be taking the risk.
Meanwhile, those who opt out of the voluntary KRM tax would not get a free ride. They would pay the full amount of taxes on their increasing housing values. They would have to pay the full fair for KRM usage (as opposed to the self-subsidized price for KRM investors), and they would be denied the additional profits that might accrue through tax breaks on increasing property values.
What I am proposing, absent the details, is a quasi-privatized train system, or to use a favorite local term, a public-private partnership. I understand that the notion of allowing individuals the option of selecting or rejecting government programs is both unusual (if not unheard of) and potentially troublesome. Our local peaceniks would love the option of not paying for military protection, for example.
The idea is perhaps a bit nutty. But is it any nuttier than thinking that one small industry, car rental companies, can foot the bill for this enormously expensive undertaking?