Smart Growth America’s new report Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development examines how land use decisions impact municipal finances. The three takeaways (taken directly from the Executive Summary) are:
1. In general, smart growth development costs one-third less for upfront infrastructure.
Our survey concluded that smart growth development saves an average of 38 percent on upfront costs for new construction of roads, sewers, water lines and other infrastructure. Many studies have concluded that this number is as high as 50 percent. Smart growth development patterns require less infrastructure, meaning upfront capital costs, long-term operations and maintenance costs, and, presumably, cost for eventual replacement are all lower. Smart growth development also often uses existing infrastructure, lowering upfront capital costs even more.
[The report later notes that “The State of Maryland found that following a smart growth approach would save approximately $1.5 billion per year statewide on new road construction through 2030—reducing overall costs by 28 percent and the costs to local governments by 60 percent.”]
2. Smart growth development saves an average of 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services.
Our survey concluded that smart growth development saves municipalities an average of 10 percent on police, ambulance and fire service costs. The geographical configuration of a community and the way streets are connected significantly affect public service delivery. Smart growth patterns can reduce costs simply by reducing the distances service vehicles must drive. In some cases, the actual number of vehicles and facilities can also be reduced along with the personnel required.
3. Smart growth development generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development.
Our survey concluded that, on an average per-acre basis, smart growth development produces 10 times more tax revenue than conventional suburban development.
Read the full report here, and check out some more articles on Building Better Budgets from sources around the country: