We can argue at length about the right levels of taxes and services that we would all prefer to have in our city, but at the end of the day, you have to take in enough money to provide the level of services – roads, police, schools, and so on – that you would like to provide.
One way to accomplish that is by using the land in a financially productive way. Land that sits empty takes in relatively little in taxes. Land that has structures for people to live and work in is going to provide more revenue.
Hopefully, we’re done with big snow storms for this year, but they are illustrative of how infill development that uses already urbanized land more intensely is a financial win. For instance, below is the satellite image of the land where some apartments currently under construction will be, in a nice, walkable west side location.
The existing roads are already plowed when it snows. So all the extra tax revenue from this new housing can go to pay for other expenses in the city. The road department doesn’t have to plow one single extra bit of road!
Since the apartments aren’t there yet, we can look at some similar apartments to get a ballpark idea of how much they might take in: conservatively, over 200,000 dollars!
Let’s also consider some single family units towards the edge of town:
All told, these pay in around 40,000 dollars in property taxes – far less than the apartments – and do require snow plowing on the road built to let people access their homes. They also require more roads to be paved, longer sewer pipes to reach all of them… more of everything, just for several homes. The apartments house a lot more people, utilizing a similar amount of land. And furthermore, the people living there could walk or bike to a lot of local amenities that are close by, and not need to drive, saving the roads some wear and tear, and keeping some CO2 out of the atmosphere.
This isn’t to say we should all live in apartments, or not allow single family units or anything like that. But where there’s a market for apartments or condos in Bend, we’ll all benefit if they’re built. They’re a great investment in our city that we all benefit from.