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.
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 (PA) 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. (Print version of CT guide)
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.
These impacts are significant not only because they affect taxpayers and local residents, but because they affect the ability of local government to respond to the needs of its citizens. Identifying the impacts of different land uses will help you recognize what types of land development and uses should be encouraged in your municipality, and what types should be treated cautiously.
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.
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.
This study looks at the impact of permanent land conservation (through acquisition or through conservation easement) on tax rates in Vermont towns. In general, the median municipal tax bill is higher in towns that have the most taxable property, and lower in the towns with the least taxable property value. This study concludes that on average, tax bills are lower in towns with the most conserved land, which is likely due to open space tending to require few public services.
This publication discusses topics related to open space, farmland, community character, quality of life, taxes and
development and how all of these elements are intertwined. Municipalities have come to realize that many of the costs of development are borne by the community rather than the developer. It is important that municipalities identify goals related to the conservation of land resources and consider the impacts of development on community services.
Although the primary reason to protect important parts of the community is to ensure a high quality of life, saving land saves money for taxpayers. Land preservation is an investment in your community’s future—providing both financial and quality of life dividends. This guide explains how to conduct cost of community services studies and includes examples from Pennsylvania municipalities.
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.