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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Apolitcal, forward-looking city government is key to smart growth

A forward-looking city government, one not consumed by politics, can help a city stay ahead of its own growth, Booth says.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

How do you plan for and stay ahead of the kind of growth that Cary has experienced?
I think by having a good staff, and Cary has always had a good young staff, and having an outstanding manager such as Bill Coleman and Jim Westbrook. You know the measures, and measuring items that you have to keep in touch with to make sure that happens. For instance, we're one of the safest cities in North Carolina. At the time we had one police officer for every so many thousand people. You have to watch that and if the numbers start changing, you have to change those numbers. You build fire stations so that you can have response time of so many minutes. If you don't have that response you need to build a fire station. So those people are professional at advising you. If you allow this to be built, allow this to happen, if the growth area takes place here, these are the facilities required and this is what you have to do. So I think that's the direction that good management, and I think the Council management for doing this was just an absolute wonderful way of running a city. For having a professional person who is not political in his thinking, working with someone who has to be political in his thinking working together, makes for a good atmosphere. If you can go ahead and do this if you want to, but if you do that next year you have to raise taxes. Or, you can do that if you want to but next year you're not going to be able to build that X facility that we need so badly. Or, if we don't build this water treatment plant, you will have to stop something.
So the trade-offs had to be spelled out and analyzed
in advance. We would go to a retreat and they told us that, if you stop growth in Cary, or you reduce it to this percent… In Colorado, Arizona, Florida, we can show you what happens when they jump over those lines, those government lines. They will go to Holly Springs, they will go to Apex, they will go to… even go down to Johnson County, and you will still get all the headaches you're going to have now with traffic and everything. But you won't get any of the taxes. And that's exactly what happened. We were told that ten years before that happened. Yes. But you've got to believe what professionals are telling you.