Leopold to make housing less affordable

John Leopold has decided that, given problems with affordable housing in the county, that the best solution is to make houses even less affordable:

See how below the fold…

A proposal to tack more than $21,000 onto the price of building a four-bedroom home in Anne Arundel County has incensed homebuilders and developers, who predict a sweeping bundle of increases to impact fees could deflate the growth boom around Fort Meade and drive them into other jurisdictions.

County Executive John R. Leopold has said the current impact fee of $4,904 a house – typically passed on to buyers – is long overdue for an increase because it doesn’t cover the “full freight” of building roads and schools and providing county services. He has said that if higher fees, such as $1 million more for a 200,000-square-foot office complex, slow down “meteoric” growth, “that is not an undesired outcome.”

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Clearly it is important that Anne Arundel County have enough money available for additional school construction and additional infrastructure construction, however this is clearly far from a constructive way to obtain such revenue.

As I have demonstrated numerous times before, there is a tremendous amount of fat in the school system budget. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Pouring money in programs that have not been proven to work. Why can we not, first and foremost, find additional sources of revenue within already existing revenues? Why can’t the School System budget be reorganized and re-prioritized to cover these costs?

Furthermore, how much fat is John Leopold really cutting the budget? yes, I am sympathetic to the ever increasing cost of adding additional infrastructure, particular when it comes to new sewer and water lines, and new roadways. But how are we making do now? Are we to believe that the burden is now so problematic for Anne Arundel County that it is required to quadruple the existing fee in order to cover the costs? What steps has John Leopold taken to restructure the county budget in order to cover these costs? What plans does Leopold have for the additional revenues that will (in theory) more than cover the increased costs for these projects?

None of those concerns address either the concerns about building affordable housing and about increasing commercial development, and of course, the concern about BRAC:

Bob Burdon, chief executive of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed impact fees would be “counterproductive” to Leopold’s stated goal of boosting commercial growth….

….”What makes it more profound is that the county has the opportunity of BRAC and the opportunity to attract quality business and development in this county, and all of that is potentially in jeopardy,” Burdon said of the base realignment process that will occur over the next four years.

There are a number of concerns regarding Leopold’s proposal here. The fact of the matter is that the cost to the consumer is going to rise if higher impact fees are passed. Yes, this is a way for Leopold to cover up the broken promises he made on the campaign trail. But at the end of the day, the developers are going to make their money back regardless. A higher impact fee is a higher cost that the homeowner or the business owner has to pay when they purchase a new home or rent a new commercial property. Developers who think that they will be unable to make the money on these fees back will take their business to surrounding counties, and artificially inflate the prices of new properties that are built.

Most importantly, as the case usually is when you talk about John Leopold, Anne Arundel County taxpayers are going to get the short end of this deal….


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