The collapse or perilous crumbling of our infrastructures, the basic building blocks of the nation's economy, underscores the investment and fiscal policies that confront the nation's leaders as well as the nation's cities' leaders. In this article, the authors focus on one key dimension of the “infrastructure crisis,” namely, the critical issues surrounding the financing of city infrastructure and a proposed set of sustainable options available to policy makers, particularly examining trends toward decentralization and fragmentation of governmental and financial institutions and toward market-based and consumer- or customer-oriented policies. Urban policy makers today find themselves in the position of negotiating with neighboring communities, competitive markets, and citizens in a fragmented governance system. What appears to be little more than organized chaos has evolved over decades into the complex, if not always rational, system of infrastructure finance and governance in which cities and other local governments find themselves today.
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