County commissioners should be cautious with Delegate Galen Clagett’s suggested income tax increase. We’re dubious about his plan to raise the 2.96 percent rate anywhere up to 3.2 percent and channel the extra income into infrastructure: roads, bridges, schools, libraries, etc.

The county’s growth task force, a group of mostly elected officials and members of the development community such as builders and Realtors, heard Clagett’s suggestion on Tuesday at its first meeting.

Perhaps what has us and many of our readers most concerned is that the money raised will benefit residential developers that should be shouldering the cost of the increased need their projects place on roads, schools, water and sewer, fire, police and other services. Clagett, critics have claimed, is a developer proposing legislation to benefit other developers.

(In his defense in a Nov. 15 letter to the editor, Clagett argued that he’s not a developer, but the owner of a property management company involved in sales, leasing and consulting; nevertheless, the fields are interconnected, even if the benefits are indirect.)

The burden of paying for this infrastructure should not be shifted from developers to taxpayers, many of whom — property owners — are already dedicating a portion of their paychecks to local property taxes, as well as to the state through taxes on their income, at the register through a 6 percent sales tax, taxes on alcohol, 27 cents and rising on each gallon of gas, and for admissions and amusements, as well as dozens of fees.

Popular fatigue over the sheer breadth of taxes in Maryland is so high, worried lawmakers are planning to trim taxes ahead of the 2014 election.

Even so, the idea of how we pay for the impact of growth, and the added pressures it places on providing government services such as schools, police, water and sewer, libraries and emergency services, is a long-standing issue in Frederick County that plays out in every election and bubbles openly during each four-year administration.

Adding to that turbulence, the present Board of County Commissioners has effectively sidelined the adequate public facilities ordinance — which had a formula whereby the impact of developments were translated into dollar amounts — by enacting developers’ rights and responsibility agreements. These agreements mean developers pay less toward the impact of their developments, can build in overcrowded school districts, and have the advantage of long-term contracts that cannot be overturned by future county governments.

In addition, many of our readers have valid concerns that additional property taxes raised through these developments may not cover the cost of expanding county services in those areas.

While the county commissioners have told us this wave of growth is anticipated in planning, we have yet to see any statistics for how much impact new development, plus or minus, will have on the county’s treasury.

The consensus from reports crafted in other jurisdictions is that residential growth in areas without already existing services such as water, sewer and roads, costs the taxpayer more than it returns.

We concede that four studies, cited by PoliticFact Florida in a 2008 article, on different jurisdictions in that state and Georgia, may be different enough to make the comparison difficult. Even so, the findings are sobering and highlight the lack of clear information on development costs here at home.

Here’s just a taste: For every dollar spent on new residential development, taxpayers had to cough up between $1.13 and $2.27, one study that measured the cost in 14 Georgia counties discovered. The greater costs were driven by residential development in areas where the infrastructure wasn’t already present.

In towns and cities with existing roads, water and sewer systems, yes, residential redevelopment brings more benefits than costs, the same with commercial and industrial growth.

But the disparity in how much we pay for growth and how much it costs in Georgia should raise questions here at home, especially when county taxpayers are devoid of any real information about the potential impact something like the 1,500 homes of Monrovia Town Center could have when fully built out.

Unquestionably, local governments need to find reliable funding for all the services we have come to expect, that are, in fact, critical to the economy and viability of our region. But as our elected leaders look for those sources, they need to be careful about placing the burden where it belongs. Putting that responsibility on taxpayers and taking the extra money out of their paychecks is not the right way to go.

(26) comments

fnfn

How can the public and Editors be so ignorant?

The Developers are the enemy of the existing homeowners they want to milk for more.

1. The Developers are your competition, when you sell.
2. The Developers get a free ride, to sell the infrastructure that is here.
3. Since the Developers get these advantages and the politician they bought, they take away incentives to fix up what we have.
4. IF we did not have Junk Capitalism and the Politicians it pays for, it would be more cost effective to fix up everything we have.

Mmadono

Want to know what your kid thinks of your political career, just talk to him for five minutes. You are either a terrible procrastinator, or a terrible father blamining your indecission on your son . Blaine loves "CREAM"....cash rules everything around me"

Mmadono

So considering The fact that Billy has voted lock in step with Blaine, Kirby's personal ethics attorney is Rand Weinberg, and Blaine has been given thousands of dollars for his (space empty) campaign, why would the latest Monrovia Town Center not pass? Out of a town of 400-some people, you will have 900 -some (UHS capacity) plus opposing this. Yet Mr. Young will still vow this is a "vocal minority".

There is so much going on that is so unethical, and perhaps illegal. I'm certain we don't even know the 1/2 of it. It is time for the citizens of this county to speak up and demand answers, and investigations. This threatens to get much worse before it gets better. Let's get serious Frederick County! Show up and bring your neighbor. This entire county should be devoted to stopping this madness, as it effects all of us! Enough is enough! There is no way we should EVER allow a small group of individuals to commit this kind of BS on our county and get away with it! Be there on Tues., 12/10 @ Urbana High to show them we aren't giving up on OUR county, and they are NOT getting away with this!

valerie_dale

Impact Fees were NEVER paid for by developers.

They were always paid for by new homebuyers - those buying new homes.

As for comments about schools, revenue from Impact Fees went/go to ONLY the Capital Budget paying for infrastructure including roads, water & sewer, parks and libraries...and yes school CONSTRUCTION.

public-redux

Blaine's advocacy of a new transfer tax and Galen's advocacy of higher income taxes are both examples of politicians thinking we can tax our way to prosperity.

jsklinelga

Good reporting. Everything needs to less polarized so reasonable solutions will prevail. I stood up loudly for impact fees when they were first enacted, but then I saw the developers side. The school system has turned into a costly bureaucracy, as has many other county and state service agencies. The current board has done an extremely effective job of streamlining the government but we need good solutions for both streamlining the government and curbing profit driven over development.

jerseygrl42

Astute observations and its obvious to this reader that BY and his palookas along with claggett are in the pockets of the development community......think Montvue which they hope to sell to aurora at a LOSS of at least $15 Million to the taxpayers, the infamous incinerator which despite MM's comments to the contrary the taxpayers ARE on the hook to pay back approx $1 BILLION in bonding plus another $ 2 Billion in operating and maintenance cost along with a new landfill to accommodate MORE TOXIC ash than all the garbage created annually in Frederick County , Jefferson Tech Park with $101 Million bond payback by the taxpayers on behalf of Sinclair, and the 9,000 home development that will require numerous schools ( or trailers such as we have at Centerville) and hundreds of millions in road and other infra structure improvements ....and all our faithless servant claggett can offer is if we do this we just have to make the taxpayers pay more...this joker ought to be run out of town ...and county!...no wonder claggett didn't want Del Afzali on this board.....

valerie_dale

Actually we do have data, somebody needs to ask the county for a copy of the Cost of Services Study by the American Farmland Trust study done in the later 90s - like maybe 1996/97. Should it be updated by AFT? Yes! But it does give us a gauge. In that study, for every $1.00 residential growth brings in, it costs our county $1.17 in taxes just to cover the services, never mind the infrastructure! With inflation, that number is likely higher, but you will note the number is similar to the ones reported in this article.

alovelyplace

WFMD/WFRE AD 'Worried about Taxes (in Frederick County)
http://youtu.be/Xqj8KZ7n7Eg

"Frederick County Commissioners are telling everyone about all the money the developer will pay towards new schools and roads but it doesn't seem like its enough." Attend the Dec. 10th Public Hearing re: The Proposal for the Monrovia Town Center to learn more. Where: Urbana High School - 6:00 pm

alovelyplace

WFMD/WFRE AD 'Enough is Enough' http://youtu.be/W9N-Os-d8gk

The December 10th Hearing is a rare opportunity to 'Cross examine' the Developer, his representatives and the BOCC's intentions. Please attend and ask the important questions, Developers transfer property and dodge commitments to roads and schools. Where is your check Mr. Developer guaranteeing your commitment? BoCC, Is it your intention to decrease impact fees and create transfer taxes to shift the burden of this development onto all of the taxpayers of Frederick County? When was the mandatory neighborhood meeting held by you and how did you notify the public, Mr. Developer?

alovelyplace

"Frederick County Commissioners are telling everyone about all the money the developer will pay towards new schools and roads but it doesn't seem like its enough." Attend the Dec. 10th Public Hearing re: The Proposal for the Monrovia Town Center to learn more. Where: Urbana High School - 6:00 pm

WFMD AD 'Worried about Taxes (in Frederick County) (Please Share!) http://youtu.be/Xqj8KZ7n7Eg

alovelyplace

Oops duplicate. Sorry. [wink]

darththevader

"... we have yet to see any statistics for how much impact new development, plus or minus, will have on the county’s treasury."

Nuff said

stevemckay

No, not quite enough said. The premise for all of this development, the policy goal as it were, is based on the notion that Frederick county needs to grow the tax base - that's what Blaine has been saying. Where is the County's study, where are their economic projections that portray the net balance of increased tax revenue against the capital and operating expense growth to service those new residents? Since the County is pushing this policy, it is incumbent on the County to justify it with more than hand-waving assertions. Don't worry - I won't be holding my breath for that answer.

fnfn

Why do some in the GOP just have theories and the world has facts?

darththevader

Using counties in Georgia as an example without even mentioning anything about their funding system??

armillary

The editor leaves little doubt
that it's obvious Blaine sold us out
but we shouldn't complain
he did his family the same
and together we'll all go without.

Ed Morgan

We all do'st belittle ol' Blaine,
for favoring the developers' gain.
But it is we who select,
and duly elect,
thus, it is we who should suffer the pain.

armillary

Hey, I like it!

Ed Morgan

Current polling says we prefer dear Jan;
what was old is new once again.
But our property taxes she did raise,
in backdoor, sneaky kind of ways.
Include her in the Clagett clan.

armillary

That was a little clunky. Permit me to tighten it up a little.

Current polling says we prefer Jan
what was old is now new once again
we wish her the best
to clean up Blaine's mess
if she does she must be Superman.

Ed Morgan

Please remember that my "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". You are the master (mistress?) and I stand in your shadow. Please keep it up. Your comments are fun and spot on.

president8444

galen typical demmie, go to Obama and get some of the billions he sends to foreign countries free from our borrowed money we pay he spends like galen and O'malley and ron young.Do it Galen.Its our borrowed money to pay back.

BstD59

Once again you inappropriately accuse a political party. Yes, Galen is a Democrat but he is in bed with the Republican dominated County Commissioners....they all are for raising taxes on citizens and not for demanding responsibility from developers for infrastructure on new builds. I agree with the Editors, Claggett's suggestion is a bad one, a very bad one, but not because he is a Democrat but because it is a bad idea, period. The more you comment on here the more your ignorance in political matters becomes apparent.

fnfn

A sensible reply to nonsense. Congrats.

Welcome to the discussion.

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