In Atlanta, like other major cities, utility companies — cable, telecommunications, power and gas — pay franchise fees to be able to do regular work beneath the city’s streets. Developers and contractors are granted work permits. All are supposed to restore the streets to their original conditions, or close to it.
In one of the most egregious acts, Ward said auditors identified 26 random street cuts on 10 streets. Nobody in the Department of Public Works could verify when the cuts were made, or by whom. She said in another instance, she and her staff found 22 plates on streets near City Hall, and none of them had an identifiable marker on them to say to whom they belonged.
So, when a private utility company, private contractor, or ineffective city department incorrectly repairs a street - and doesn't report it - the city ends up having to clean up after them. Taxpayers subsidize private business and ineffective government yet again, and it works because - who do you call if no one knows who made the hole? It creates a zero accountability system for those doing the damage.
How about this: rasie the hell out of the franchise fees, require everyone tearing up a street to report it to Public Works, and then use the increased franchise fees to support Public Works' budget to fix the streets. Any street cuts get made, Public Works fixes the street. That way, any time there is a street torn up somewhere, everyone knows who is responsible for it. Accountability.
Bet that could work in some other Southern cities who have pothole and street problems...