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Dec. 9, 2019

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Residential land is pricey to serve

It requires $1.16 in services for every $1 generated by taxes

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 26, 2019, 6:04am

Houses do not provide enough ongoing tax revenue to pay for services — police, fire, schools, roads and parks — that residents need and expect.

The American Farmland Trust, which advocates protecting and conserving agriculture lands, developed studies in the mid-1980s to determine how much different land types cost to serve. Since then, similar studies have been done in more than 150 communities in the United States.

The overall conclusion? It costs 30 cents to serve business land and 37 cents to serve agriculture land for every $1 in tax revenue generated. Residential development requires $1.16 in services for every $1 generated.

Clark County has put forth impressive projections for jobs and taxes if the 179th Street area develops: 2,850 direct construction jobs, $188 million in state and local tax revenue from construction and $23 million annually in ongoing state and local tax revenues. It hasn’t provided any estimates for how much it would cost to serve the area, aside from road funding needed so housing construction can proceed.

Not everyone agrees that residential development is a net financial loser for local governments. Ryan Makinster, government affairs director for the Building Industry Association of Clark County, said you can’t create jobs if you don’t have homes for employees.

“A diversified economy needs housing,” he said. “To claim that a house doesn’t pay for itself is demonstrably false when you look at it on a macroeconomic sense.”

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• Residential land is pricey to service: It requires $1.16 in services for every $1 generated by taxes

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