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. The 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. In these communities, $1.17 was spent for every dollar received from residential land, $.05 spent for every dollar received from commercial land, $.02 spent for every dollar received for industrial land, and $.04 spent for each dollar received for farmland.
This March 2002 report found that for every $1.00 in revenues received from farm, forest, and other open land properties in the Township, only $0.59 was spent in providing municipal services. The Township made a $0.41 profit on every $1 received from open space. This finding is particularly noteworthy considering that the municipality had focused its highway department expenditures on its rural roads during the year of the study. 19 pages.
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.
One of several examples of a completed COCS study that can be found on the American Farmland Trust website. An important aspect to look at in this case study is the methodology and processes conducted in performing this study.
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 paper presents the results from a land use and community service study conducted in Walker Township (Centre County), which investigated the relationship between land uses and local government expenditures and revenues. It compares the local government and school district revenues provided by different land uses with the cost of providing services to those land uses. The study followed the methodology of similar studies by the American Farmland Trust. Four land uses were considered: Residential land, Industrial land, Commercial land, and Agricultural land. The definitions follow Pennsylvania tax assessment conventions, with one exception. The buildings and homes on farms (the homestead) were treated as residential properties. Land without buildings on farms was categorized as Agricultural land. This was done to make the study consistent with the earlier American Farmland Trust studies.
Cost of community services (COCS) studies are undertaken to examine the fiscal contribution of various land uses in a community during a single year. The COCS approach works by allocating revenues and expenditures found in the local government budgets to the land uses from which they were generated.