As if its news: Smart Growth Saves Taxpayer $
A new report out from Smart GrowthAmerica lays out how smart growth, simply directing development and public investment within existing cities and towns rather than sprawling into the countryside, is the most prudent fiscal approach. This argument has been around a long time, made by groups such as Oregon’s 1000 Friends of Oregon and the Coalition for a Livable Future. Metro, the Portland area regional government, commissioned many studies to document the fiscal advantage of investing in existing urban areas which were heatedly challenged by some suburban cities still intent on continuing very profitable (for developers) greenfield development.
In summary, the report finds:
- Smart growth development costs at least one third less for upfront infrastructure construction.
- Smart growth development saves taxpayers at least 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services.
- Smart growth development generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development.
(thanks to Futurewise of Washington state for this summary)
So, why do some governments still pursue and support sprawling development? The key lies in the fragmented nature of how we fund public infrastructure. The agency permitting new development is probably not the same one providing schools, roads, water and sewer. There is often no link between which agency incurs the expenses of development and the agency that reaps the rewards. What we need is a transparent and accessible scorecard of public revenues and public expenditures, regardless of agency.