On December 11th, the County Executive held a hearing on the FY2019 budget.
I testified at the hearing and shared my concerns that the County’s ability to deliver quality services is diminishing while the risk of higher County debt is increasing because:
The County is not charging market-based school surcharge fees.
The County is giving free money to developers such as the Columbia TIF.
The County is proposing the Savage Mills parkland swap that will give public land to a developer for private use.
We need to audit this massive deal, including the process, deliberations and other aspects. The TIF is just a fraction of the whole project. There were major changes to the county's zoning laws specifically to favor one developer.
Not only will the county pay for the financing and the servicing of the TIF, the developer gets to build a projection of profitability with free money. On top of that we pay the developer a fee for taking the TIF as well.
The county passed the TIF under the guise of building parking garages. Now the county is bending over backwards by making facilities that we deemed unqualified to be qualified in order to keep the TIF. This is daylight robbery of taxpayer money and some on the county council as well as the administration are aiding this theft.
Over the last few days, I heard the plea of parents' for help in comparing school impact fees across Maryland counties and how Howard County's schools stack up by state standards. My analysis concludes in clear and certain terms that tax payers in Howard County are subsidizing the profits of developers.
Impact fees should be tied to the size of the land available for development, the cost of developing public facilities, and demand. Currently, there is a market distortion that is created because of the low impact fees. This does not necessarily mean that higher impact fees mean higher home prices. The low impact fees are just creating opportunities for the developer to pocket more of the profits that it would have paid to mitigate overcrowding.
The stake holders are not being forthcoming and are hoping to evasively get this project approved. The process is not transparent. They want county money to subsidize their development and it is not obvious if all the Council Members realize this. The TIF bill will be in front of the next council. If elected, I will not vote for it under any circumstances. There is a train stop is 2,500 ft away and there is absolutely no need for another one.