More on development subsidies

More on why I oppose development subsidies over critical functions.  (SFD = Single Family Detached) This is a part of a note I sent to the lobbyist for the Rochester Area Builders.

As I said some people believe $5.5 million in sewer subsidies are more important that public safety, transit, or services for children, but I disagree. For that matter even clearing ped trails is more important.

These subsidies do not create affordable housing as SFD is never ever affordable to those in need. Rather they just allow a person that can afford a 2500 sq. ft. home to build 2800… These subsidies do nothing to eliminate housing need but do promote sprawl.

I do support assistance for true walkable, TOD affordable housing OR properties that there really is a payback (taxes > impact) like Broadway at Center.

So first and foremost 2 things:

1) It is hard to come up with a complete list because the city does not quantify these items well, but the sewer subsidy in and of itself is insanity.
2) These subsidies really can never be called “investments” because it is very rare that taxes generated from a property ever cover its costs, let alone that capital replacement of public assets. This is especially true for single family detached which Stevan can confirm.

Subsidies:
1) Unquestionable data – Sewer fund for wastewater treatment, subsidy on the order of $5.5 million in 2015
2) Unquestionable data – RPU connection fees
3) Unquestionable data – TID fees do not cover the cost of service expansion on roadways. Targeted to 75% I believe, thus 25% subsidy.

Likely Subsidies:
3) Development impact on sewer conveyance infrastructure and capacity
4) Development impact on water conveyance infrastructure and capacity
5) Development impact on stormwater conveyance infrastructure and capacity

Service Subsidies:
6) Charges do not cover 100% of required inspections and overhead
7) Charges do not cover 100% of permitting functions and overhead

Ongoing Susidies:
8) Property taxes on suburban SFD development do not cover incremental public safety coverage or volume costs. (A fire station or police district cover the same are regardless of how many people live there, 500 or 50000 so sprawl is just inefficient).
9) Property taxes on suburban SFD development do not cover the operations, maintenance, and replacement of local streets.
10) Property taxes on suburban SFD development do not cover the operations, maintenance, and replacement of major roadways.
11) Property taxes on suburban development of all kinds do not cover the incremental costs associate with higher automobile dependance including road volume design, parking, enforcement, and economic drag due to automobile dependance.

I believe fees for market rate projects should cover costs (and probably projected future tax shortfalls as well). By simply moving all fees to a per acre basis developers could choose their fee structure by determining density. Right now the poorest people in Rochester can’t get decent transit while subsidizing McMansions and that is dead wrong.

Bottom line almost every single home we build on 1/3 of an acre or less is an investment that we subsidize on the front end and lose money forever there after. These 11 subsidies for “dumb” growth are what I came up with in about 10 minutes, I am sure if pressed staff could come up with many more.

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