Delivered by PWCBG’s Ralph Stephenson
Hearing held 7 October 2014
I’m Ralph Stephenson, Brentsville District, Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth (PWCBG).
1. FISCAL IMPACT – Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth has updated its 2012-13 fiscal impact analysis on the effects of residential development. It shows that Stone Haven will be almost $1,400 tax negative per house per year, compared to PWCBG’s 2012-13 analysis that showed residential developments in the county on average about $1,500 tax negative per house per year. (See pwcbg.org, County Supervisors’/Proffers section). Thus, Stone Haven – zoned agricultural and therefore assuming almost no by-right development — will cost the county an almost $2.3M tax deficit per year, while it and the soon-to-follow, next-door project Prince William Station (a grand total of 3,650-4,150 houses for both) together will likely create about a $5.1-5.8M tax deficit per year. We’re getting empty land for a school from the Stone Haven developer, but will almost immediately need at least one more additional school to accommodate all the new students from it and PW Station. Wouldn’t it be much cheaper to reject more tax-negative houses and instead just buy this or other land for one school (not two) and ball fields? Beware residential developers bearing gifts — Trojan horses, that is; county taxpayers can’t afford such gifts.
2. COMMERCIAL — The Stone Haven Comp Plan Amendment eliminates potential employment/job creation of 4,324-7,333 jobs. The vast majority of these jobs would be in the higher-paying office and industrial sectors — EVEN THOUGH that kind of commercial development tends to be the most tax-positive, while retail, at least in this county, is often, effectively, tax-neutral. Remember that once commercial land is rezoned to residential, the commercial potential is effectively gone forever.
If we don’t attract more professional, high-wage commercial development, the county will continue its slide toward an irreversibly low-wage, commuter economy. Currently, 82% of county property tax revenues come from residential, only 15% from commercial. I strongly urge the county to clean house at its Economic Development Department, first firing its director who appears to have done nothing to seriously attract commercial development, and may even prefer residential development. Then increase its size, clout, and oversight by (and partnership with) the BOCS. According to one supervisor, it currently has about 15 employees, and is nowhere near full-service in a way that it can compete with Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, etc. How about, for the first time, competing seriously for and investing in hi-paying, hi-tax revenue commercial businesses?
3. PROPERTY VALUES — Property values in surrounding communities will go DOWN, NOT UP if Stone Haven and/or PW Station are built. When supply increases, all things being equal, prices go down. That can lead to early deterioration of existing neighborhoods.
Because it will hurt commuters and schoolkids by further overcrowding our roads and schools, and also hurt taxpayers, homeowners, and workers, as noted above (also see pwcbg.org), I request that you reject the Stone Haven CPA/rezoning, or at least delay the vote until those most affected will have representation on the BOCS. No taxation without representation.