What Do We Get From Development? New Tool Has Answer



August 31, 2012

The City of West Palm Beach has a new tool that calculates the real-world benefits created by adding development projects to city tax rolls.

New development projects mean additional property tax revenue for the city. Yet it is often hard to translate dollar amounts to what a project would mean in the real world for real residents.

A new tool developed by the Office of Economic Development calculates how many new police officers, fire fighters, code enforcement officers, etc can be hired using new property taxes expected to be generated by a particular project.

The new resort and spa being planned for the Land of the Presidents area is the first project to to be run through the formula.  Currently, the value of the land is estimated to be approximately $10 million dollars.  The City currently collects approximately $83,000 dollars per year in tax revenue.

The new project is expected to increase the value of the land to approximately $160 million dollars, which would generate an estimated $1.3 million dollars in property taxes each year. This would be an increase of $1,217,000 per year in property tax revenue.  What would that pay for?

According to new calculations, the Land of the Presidents project would pay for 18 new police officers (including salary and benefits), 15 new fire fighters, or 24 new code enforcement officers.

“This tool is helpful in demonstrating to the community the benefits that are created by new development,” said City of West Palm Beach Executive Director of Economic Development Alan Durham. “Everything changes. The question is whether it will change for the better or for the worse. Too often, we focus on what we imagine might be the impacts of a particular project, and we let those impressions affect our point of view. But this new tool takes away the speculation, and demonstrates in real world terms the benefits that a new project can create. It’s a reminder that the only way we are going to advance as a community is to make sure we continue to generate new tax dollars to pay for those steps forward.”

The new tool is expected to be used on additional projects moving forward.