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10 Cities That Bent Over Backward For Big Projects

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NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Remember the good old days of buying something you knew was a bit out of your price range but enjoying the rush despite the newfound debt?

Yep, the years and even decades leading up to the housing crisis, credit crisis and latest recession were a dumb, covetous time. Unfortunately for some American towns and cities, there's still a price to be paid for those spendthrift ways.

The New Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland is just one example of projects that have cities, towns and counties around the country aching from effort to get them done, pay for them or even justify them after the fact.

Federal Reserve data show that overall municipal bond debt was up to $2.9 trillion by the end of 2010. While final 2011 numbers haven't been released, $2.5 trillion of that 2010 debt was issued by state and local governments and is sticking around for the long haul.

The promise of revenue and the lure of shiny new stuff to play with was just a bit too great for some towns, cities and landowners to resist. It's only when those toys don't worked as advertised, come without batteries included or just make a big mess out of the surrounding area that most folks remember how high a price was paid and start grumbling about the bill.

We took a look around America and found 10 communities that bent over backward for big projects and just about had their spines snapped in the process:

Tug Hill, N.Y.
Project: Wind power
It's never a good sign when documentary crews come into your town looking to use it as a cautionary tale.

Yet that's the role Tug Hill has been assigned in the documentary Windfall. Located in New York's Lewis County, where there are scant zoning rules and part-time local governments, Tug Hill is now home to the huge Maple Ridge wind farm that paid out $1.2 million in local taxes during its first year in operation and promised another $400,000 more in taxes each year. The farmers below, meanwhile, get $6,000 to $10,000 a year for each tower, while some residents get as much as $1,000 a year for the towers' effect on their view.

The 195 turbines stand on towers 400 feet high. Their blades spin at 150 miles an hour. As the documentary points out, however, such turbines can collapse and catch fire, and local fire departments are ill equipped to do anything about them. They throw off chunks of ice in the winter, cause sunlight to flicker during the summer and make a sound akin to airplane noise all year long.

The noise and view seem to be the sticking point for folks who aren't getting paid for land use . It's also driven up tax assessments in the area, which isn't sitting well with taxpayers. The windmills generate tax money for the community, but residents say they're not seeing reduction in taxes as a result. They're also not getting any of the power from the mills, which serve 100,000 houses in the surrounding area but none in Tug Hill.