In Chester County, PA, between Route 1 and Route 30, Route 41 passes through or near nine communities with high development pressure that also contain extensive prime farmland, headwaters to five significant stream systems, and/or vibrant downtowns and villages. Brandywine Conservancy used a cost of community services study to examine how potential development would affect the ability of local governments and school district to provide community services.
During fiscal year 2000 in Shrewsbury Township, York County, for every $1 of revenue generated by a residential property, $1.22 was spent providing services to those lands. For every $1 received from commercial and business land, $0.15 was spent to provide services and for every $1 received from farm/forest/open land uses in the township, $0.17 was spent providing services.
Cost of Community Services studies examine both the tax revenues generated by different land uses and the costs to local government of providing services to those same uses. They help people understand the fiscal consequences of keeping land in agriculture or as open space versus developing land for other purposes.
Although working and open space lands may generate less revenue than residential, commercial or industrial property, they require less public infrastructure and fewer community services. Cost of Community Services studies from 25 states show that, on average, the median cost per dollar of revenue raised to provide public services for commercial and industrial lands was $0.30, for working and open space lands was $0.37, and for residential lands was $1.16.
This study presents the key findings of an assessment of budget and fiscal trends for Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. It shows that the following perceptions about development and its relationship to the county’s fiscal position are not true: A lack of residential development has hurt the county’s fiscal health; agriculture and open space are unproductive land uses; increased residential development will lead to healthier fiscal conditions; and more commercial zoning can solve the county’s budget problems.