The good news is that it turns out my worries about the budget have turned out to be unfounded. Either the economy has been rebalanced or my younger self was needlessly profligate with social services. Probably a combination of both.
The bad news is that I'm not sure I want to continue growing my city. Not because I'm bored or frustrated or anything, but because I've reached the edges of the map, and in order further expand, I'll have to pave over my farms and replace my small, single-residence houses with apartment buildings.
I'm faced then, with the choice between expanding my city or preserving its unique rural character. It may seem perverse to worry about the gentrification of a simulated video game city, particularly when growing the city is the only obvious goal. Yet, somehow, the simple farming community of Concord feels real to me. To disrupt the patchwork of fields in order to make room high-rise apartments and office buildings doesn't seem right.
Luckily, I can start a new city, one that from the very beginning is geared for its eventual expansion. This isn't quite an admission of defeat. SimCity 4 is played over a region, where the various city maps are connected and can engage in deals and trades. So far, Concord is the only city in my region, and thus even if I stuck with it and built it up, I'd still be missing out on a good portion of the game's content.
So, I guess, for now, Concord is complete. It's not a bad little town. It's got about 15,000 people, good schools, a stable and sustainable tax base, low crime, and only the occasional traffic jam. It's probably destined to be overshadowed by its neighbors, but I'm certain that its small-town charm will make it a favorite suburb in the region for years to come.