Thursday, March 16, 2006

Insult to Injury

Many people have come to know that one of the ironies of residential growth in the County is that the more you have of it, the more the County's tax base is drained. There are a couple of reasons for that, but foremost among them is simply the fact that when it comes to new development, it doesn't pay its own way. Sure, the County has some meager impact fees in place, but they cover only a fraction of the real cost of accomodating new development.

Did you know that in 1999, the County Executive brought in an impact fee expert from Florida, and appointed a Committee to study raising impact fees? Did you know that he recommended that the County raise its impact fees to $10,518 to cover the real costs of new roads, school space, libraries, parks, and public safety service increases (his recommendation made no mention of increased stormwater costs)? What did the Owens' administration choose to do? It chose to set it at less than half that much, $4,069. Translated, that means that in 2000, roughly, for every new home built in the County, existing residents were subsidizing it to the tune of about $6,000. The failure of this Administration to take leadership on this issue has cost the County millions of dollars, and promises to cost it tens of millions more in the future.

Just imagine, as 5 to 10 thousand more homes are built in west county, what sort of unpaid bills that saddles existing Anne Arundel County residents with. Which of our candidates running for Executive and County Council, will make this important issue a keystone of their campaign?

[Wednesday's Sun reported that Director of Planning & Zoning, Joe Rutter is concerned about the costs of new west county development, and has recommended going to the feds for help. Perhaps he should approach his boss about the shortfall on the County's end to assist the process.]



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