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How Developer Influence Impacts the County in Two Testimonies

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How Developer Influence Impacts the County in Two Testimonies

Hiruy Hadgu

Earlier this month, the County Council voted on the much debated bill to update the adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO). During the debate, many proponents of a weaker APFO claimed that the unmitigated growth is not a problem.

But we know this is not true. Schools and roads cost money. If the revenue from construction of each additional home is not more than the cost it incurs by way of new school construction, road expansion or other expenses, the county loses money.

Within a few days of the vote, I testified in two different topics that illustrated how unmitigated growth and low impact fees, as well as the practice of providing tax increment financing (TIF) hurts the county's taxpayer.

Testimony at the Planning Board

The Planning Board held a hearing on the FY2019 capital budget, that lists the county's priorities. The budget contains nearly $150 billion in general obligation bonds to pay for upgrades, expansion, or construction of existing and new public facilities. I testified to remind how we got here and also to request the county prepare a cost analysis of development to help the county make better fiscal and economic decisions.

Testimony at the Board of Education

The Board of Education held a hearing on the site selection for High School 13. I testified in support of the Mission Road site. Schools have been overcrowded due to unmitigated growth and weak school capacity standards. The APFO bill strengthened these standards and we still have more to do in terms of raising school surcharge fees for new schools. 

The county has frozen hiring to manage the impending financial issues. No effort is being made to increase school surcharge fees. The school system is facing financial constraints as well as it contemplates raising health insurance premiums for teachers.

The point is this: development decisions have economic and fiscal consequences on the taxpayer.