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While growth does result in a larger overall tax base, it usually costs more money than it generates, resulting in a net fiscal drain.
Eben Fodor

Our Programs: Sustainability


A strategy that holds the development industry more accountable for the economic and environmental burdens of new construction,


or an approach that taxes residents to subsidize growth.

Who Pays for Growth?

  • While growth proponents argue that building more stuff pays for itself (or they’ll even say growth lowers taxes for current residents), studies show that’s not the case. Growth costs: for roads, water and sewage systems, police, schools, and other infrastructure. Impact fees on new buildings account for a portion of these new costs. No town has seen growth lower taxes!

  • Growth incurs more than pocketbook costs. Sitting in traffic congestion, more air and water pollution, the eradication of open space, rising crime rates, the destruction of historic assets, and the loss of a sense of community are costs that are difficult to quantify, but which are often the most important quality-of-life indicators for residents.

  • Some voices maintain "more is better" – more choices and more jobs are the usual shibboleths. Look at who’s making the claims, who will benefit, and the nature of these choices (72 brands of toothpaste but only one place to shop) and jobs (often they simply replace existing services). Develop environmental, economic, and social impact studies to evaluate the effect of growth on all sectors of the community.

  • Cities often subsidize growth by providing financial incentives to attract businesses, believing new companies will provide jobs for residents and a higher tax base. However, 30-50% of new positions are often filled by people who move into a town for the job. Further, additional taxes almost never make up for subsidies and other costs the city must now absorb, such as for new roads, fire stations, or police departments.