Learn the Basics
Developers frequently tout the economic benefits of their proposed or existing business, usually jobs or business property tax revenues. But there are often hidden costs:
- Residential property values and tax revenues might change as a result of a polluting industry. A gain in property tax from the polluting business could be wiped out by the loss in taxes from lowered property values.
- Some industries have trucks coming and going all the time. Is this increasing traffic, slowing down other area business? More wear and tear on the roads at taxpayer expense? Does it require constructing new roads or wider roads, or putting in new traffic lights that need to be maintained? See Traffic Options for more ideas and details.
The town or county Assessor’s office will have the data about home and business property values and tax rates. From that data you can calculate what changes in property value would do to town tax collections.
It helps to have a clear, positive vision of what you want instead of the polluted/polluting site. A public park? A residential area? A business or shopping center? Be sure there is consensus on this in your community group. Find out what the costs and economic benefits would be for your alternative vision.
If a site is already contaminated, it will need to be cleaned up before it can be used again. Read Hazardous Waste: Containing the Danger for a background on cleanup options and potential problems. See Soil/Water Testing Options if you want them to test the site. Some future uses (like homes or a playground) will require a deeper and more expensive cleanup. Other future uses (like a business, industry, or parking lot) won’t need as deep or expensive a cleanup. Sometimes if you demand too much, you may get nothing at all.
Make Your Case
When you have the key facts you want to communicate to decision-makers or to the community, Communicating with Numbers helps you make your case effectively in words, images, and fact sheets.