I support preservation of farmland & open space prioritized by parcels with high development pressure. While debt isn’t my preferred means to accomplish this I support whatever consensus the board arrives at since I feel strongly about the long term benefits. I also understand we have a voter mandate for preservation.
*Note: I have over the past year proposed alternate funding strategies including:
1. Ear-marking developer transfer taxes for preservation
2. Creating a transferable development rights program (TDR). TDR is a free market mechanism for preservation. It involves no township money.
Unfortunately, neither got traction from other board members.
In March Commissioners Conrad & Lancsek proposed borrowing to fund preservation. While I am pleased it appears the entire board is willing to settle on a mechanism I am only cautiously optimistic at this point. Read about the proposal here.
First, let’s talk mandates. I came into office with 2. Important to remember, since both relate to preservation.
1. First keep taxes sustainably low. Meaning setting us up for long term resiliency as opposed to gimmicks. I think I’ve delivered with the homestead exclusion that rollled back 25% of the prior boards tax increase for homeowners. More importantly relating to resiliency it sets us up to capture more revenue from commercial and industrial users (strip malls and warehouses). These uses generate more liabilities than revenue. Addressing this disparity sets us up for a more sustainable long term balance sheet. High liability land-uses should carry the burden. Not residents.
2. Second I came into office with clear mandate from voters to preserve farmland and developable open space. This also relates to #1. How to keep taxes low in Lower Macungie.
So why only the cautious optimism about the bond?
I’m nervous that some might see a 10M bond as a “blank check” for whatever pet project is the flavor of the moment. With the “blank check” mentality we can get lazy. That scares me. Remember, the reason the prior BOC raised taxes in 2012 was to fund capital projects. Fact is since then, the largest single project moving forward is the 4.9 million dollar quarry park renovation including over 1.5M earmarked for turf fields. Hardly a priority and certainly not warranting a tax increase.
I’m nervous we’ve diluted a conversation about funding open space (something with clear long term financial benefits) with “other capital projects”. (Things that might not)
I’m also leery of inducing more “dumb growth” with STROAD infrastructure. While it’s important we solve existing traffic problems we have to be careful not to induce further congestion. (see graph below)
So, lets proceed but with caution. Any questions about the potential bond please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org