Does Development Pay for Itself?

Vice Mayor Betty Janik finally came to [Scottsdale Planning, Economic Development and Tourism Director Randy] Grant’s aid.

“I’ve read quite a bit on does economic development pay for itself,” she said. “You can go and check all the literature and you can get six experts say it does and six equal expert people that say it doesn’t.”

Sadly, Betty Janik has turned from being a disappointment to being a downright idiot.

Betty just couldn’t resist jumping in line, after idiots Linda Milhaven, Tammy Caputi, and Solange Whitehead shined their asses with their own incompetence and/or willful ignorance. I’m only surprised that Tom Durham wasn’t jumping up and down after that, yelling, “Mr. Kotter, Mr. Kotter!”

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Even though I don’t have much respect for David Ortega, he at least knew what he was talking about:

“…we have spent or laid out $36.1 million in infrastructure and the development community and the develop impact fees have only contributed $17 million (over a five-year period),” he said.

“That’s less than 50 percent. We are fronting those costs,” Ortega continued.

“The other part of the checkbook for wastewater and those numbers we’ve put out $36 million and again the development is lagging: they’ve paid only $10.9 million. What that means is … the developers are lagging in paying their fair share.”

Which goes to show that, Betty, if you haven’t done your homework, you should keep your mouth shut. It’s bad enough that you’ve turned your back on the folks who supported you, now you are just making us look bad.

The bottom line is that the reason Betty is getting mixed results from her 5-minute Google searches is that development fees are not consistent from one municipality to another, nor from one project to another. And whether the municipality properly sequesters those funds and spends them as-intended, is a bigger question, particularly in Scottsdale.

Beyond that, the accounting gets even more murky when the City Council doesn’t properly budget for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades when they are approving infrastructure projects, and when they are approving new development projects.

After all, if development pays for itself, why is Scottsdale billions of dollars behind in infrastructure maintenance, and continually borrowing money (bonds) to catch up?


Here’s the entire article from the Progress for your convenience. But you can click through to the publication for other articles.

Does development pay for itself was the question of the hour at last week’s Scottsdale City Council meeting.

A discussion on whether or not all of downtown should be called Old Town quickly turned into a debate about the sustainability of development in all of Scottsdale. 

Councilwomen Linda Milhaven and Tammy Caputi claimed development does pay for itself in the form of property and sales taxes as well as impact fees that developers are required to pay when building new projects. 

Scottsdale Planning, Economic Development and Tourism Director Randy Grant noted developers are required to upgrade infrastructure if they propose projects the current infrastructure can’t sustain.

And Caputi said Scottsdale needs more housing to attract the commercial properties that fill the city coffers with sales and property taxes.

Mayor David Ortega saw things from another angle. 

“I do want to bring out the point that when it comes to impact fees and you actually look at the checkbook and the checkbook indicates for water alone, we have spent or laid out $36.1 million in infrastructure and the development community and the develop impact fees have only contributed $17 million (over a five-year period),” he said. 

“That’s less than 50 percent. We are fronting those costs,” Ortega continued.

“The other part of the checkbook for wastewater and those numbers we’ve put out $36 million and again the development is lagging:  they’ve paid only $10.9 million. What that means is … the developers are lagging in paying their fair share.”

Councilwoman Solange Whitehead pointed out there are no impact fees to pay for extra police officers, libraries or parks.

Those are often paid for in property taxes but Whitehead noted the Arizona Legislature has reduced commercial property tax rates several times over the last several years, making it difficult for cities to justify new growth.

“We need a partnership at the Legislature because the Legislature is making it very difficult for city councils to develop strong partnerships with developers and get it paid for,” she said, adding:

 “I think that would bring people together instead of this for and against development (argument) that we’re seeing right now (in the community).”

Caputi finally put the question point blank to Grant of whether development pays for itself.

His response essentially amounted to, it’s complicated. 

“That’s always a great question,” Grant said. “In order to fully answer that we have to get down quite a bit into the weeds … It’s not just a comparison of the primary impacts of that particular investment. 

“It’s the secondary and tertiary impacts of people living there, supporting area businesses and generating sales tax dollars and so forth. And a secondary product of that is, if your neighbor invests $100,000 in their house, your house value goes up. If they let their house go into decline, your house value goes down. There’s always an interest in how do you attract that reinvestment that’s going to raise all the ships.”

Vice Mayor Betty Janik finally came to Grant’s aid.

 “I’ve read quite a bit on does economic development pay for itself,” she said. “You can go and check all the literature and you can get six experts say it does and six equal expert people that say it doesn’t.

“One of the comments that Randy (Grant) brought up was do you include the value of the homes going up when you talk about does development pay for itself. That is a very controversial topic so I don’t think that it’s reasonable to expect our staff to be able to answer that question because there are a whole lot of variables.”

In the end, council members did agree on two things. 

First, development should pay for itself and if it’s not, calculations need to change to make sure it does, and second, the council agreed to continue calling all of the downtown area Old Town. 

 

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6 Comments

  1. I just read your argument in Opposition to Plan 2035 in a brochure about the Nov 2d vote I got in the mail.

    You are my new hero. I’ve been clamoring for years that we’ve been annexed by Tempe and nobody told us!!

    I live in South Scottsdale, around Palm Lane and Hayden. I presume all the city council live in Troon North.

    The apartments are EVERYWHERE. Old Town is party central, target age 20. All the good restaurants where you could eat in an under 100 decibels environment are gone. The Old Town I moved to be nearby is GONE.

    I started out here 25 years ago on Miller Rd. An HOA Board stint cured me of caring about local politics for years, as well as working in State Government. I can’t honestly say I care enough now to get involved, I have a low threshold for hypocrisy, but I’m so glad there are people like you who will get involved, speak up and know what you’re talking about.

    I also don’t believe in the words “public servant” anymore. Agendas, greed and kickbacks are what I think they are all about now, and I can’t seem to get past that. In following the money, I’d like to know who’s been making the kickback money on the OCEAN of apartments in Scottsdale now. No doubt someone who ran on the keep Old Town quaint ticket.

    Yeah…I’m cynical. But you have given me hope that there really is a sane voice out there! Thank you!!

    1. Thank you, Ruth! All excellent observations, sadly.

      No one moved to Scottsdale because they thought it was broken. They moved here because they thought it wasn’t!

      They moved here because they didn’t want to have to worry about infrastructure, traffic, noise, crime, etc.

      But, sadly, those things get eroded a little bit at a time, and before you know it, they are gone.

      I’m hopeful that others will listen, too, and maybe we can turn the ship before it’s too late.

  2. John:
    Thanks for the info. on the general plan. I am voting no. Why mail in ballots? Why not Nov. 2022? Same old, same old , I guess.

  3. Thank you for the information. My husband I are voting no on GP2035. The construction throughout is not going to help Scottsdale improve; it will transform it into a crowded, noisy and unsafe city. Let’s improve what we already have.

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