OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez
Inquiring minds want to know whether growth provides benefits to residents, or pays for itself, or (gasp!) comes at the expense of current residents. Here’s one effort to find out: an open letter to the County, followed by the implications.
Dear Mr. Callagy, Dear Mr. Raigoza,
I noted with interest a few months back that the County was able to obtain a pledge of about $1.6 million from the developers of the Big Wave project to contribute to certain infrastructure enhancements – if I recall correctly some trails and traffic controls. That led me to wonder how the County knows it is receiving enough monies from any given project?
Is there a ‘fiscal sustainability analysis’ worksheet or form of some kind that details the incremental short and long term revenues and costs for a given project, and which is used to assess the amounts required? I note in other jurisdictions that there are traffic impact fees, water & sewer fees, school funding fees, and other taxes/fees levied on land that changes purpose or undergoes development (e.g. ‘flip fees’ in NY). In some states (like Vermont) and countries (like Switzerland) there is a complete holistic review of all aspects of a proposed project by a regional governing authority. I understand things may be more fragmented in San Mateo County – for example relying on water and sewer agencies to assess their own needs and fees – but I am interested in how the County analyzes the necessary contribution growth must provide to pay for itself. And I am also curious, how it audits those revenues and expenses after the fact to ensure the “yield” is adequate and to determine if and how to adjust its metrics going forward.
If this is not in the purvey of your office, please forward my inquiry to the relevant department, and so advise.
Thanks in advance for your cooperation,
Gregg A. Dieguez
Those of you who have followed this column will understand where this is going. I expect to hear that some fraction of property taxes goes to funding fire and sheriff resources; I’m not sure what we’ll hear about road and school funding; I’d bet there is no such ‘fiscal sustainability analysis’ worksheet. And further, even if there is, I’ll bet that it doesn’t cover the perpetual funding of asset maintenance and replenishment. But let’s see what we learn, and then we can discuss what more is required to sustainably plan in this County. I will also be interviewing planners and town managers in the area – as I have from Switzerland and Vermont to here (hint: those regions have this issue nailed down).
Mr. Dieguez is a semi-successful, semi-retired MIT entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He lives in Montara. He loves to respond to comments.