(10/2017) Recently the County Executive was quoted in the Frederick News-Post about many things she blames on the previous board of county commissioners. She uses perception of numbers to simulate that the sky is falling on several issues when in fact when you look closely at the real data; nothing could be farther from the truth.
The Executive claims that the bridge over route 340 at the entrance to the Jefferson Tech Park was "the largest bad deal and the largest taxpayer giveaway in county history". She said the interchange" could cost" $120 million in maintenance over the next 100 years. She changed an agreement made by the previous BoCC where the county will now take over 3.8 miles of dilapidated excess state
highway roads and in return give the state highway a brand new bridge.
Now in case you donít already see the flaws in this incredibly bad deal, I will put this in laymanís terms so itís very easy to follow. Letís say the new bridge built by and paid for the developer is a brand new Cadillac. The 3.8 miles of existing 40-year old state roadways are just that, a 1977 AMC Gremlin. In order to get the Gremlin to run, you have to put "X" amount of dollars into it,
then in order to keep it running, you need to maintain it at a cost of "X".
These roads are no different, theyíre 40 years old + - , so they need to be brought up to current standards which is not cheap, as well, every year now we have 3.8 miles more of roadway to maintain and remove snow, year over year over year. Whereas the new Cadillac you would spend zero dollars on repairs and maintenance is minimal year over year. This goes for the bridge as well.
This bridge will require zero repairs for 50+ years and the maintenance will be minimal as well. Another factor to look at on this, most state highway bridges take a beating day in and day out and they last 40 -50 years with very minimal repairs and most will last 75 Ė 100 years until replacement. This bridge into Jefferson Tech Park will service 825 homes as well as commercial tenants. This
bridge will take on minimal traffic loads unlike a bridge say on route 270 and not require replacement until well beyond the 100-year mark. So what would you do, buy the Gremlin and own the money pit, or take the Cadillac and keep your money in the bank?
Now for the numbers, this tech park subdivision will have 825 houses when complete. Letís use a modest property tax rate on each house of $3500 annually. That amounts to $2,887,500.00 annually from the property tax of the residential portion. If we use a ratio of 71% of the tax revenue (currently the income tax ratio to property tax is 71%) that adds another $2,050,125.00 of revenue.
Letís use the County Executiveís example of 100 years for the lifespan and add in these revenues and youíll see that over 100 years (at current rates not adjusted for inflation) the county would collect just under $494 million. Keep in mind this does not include inflation or any of the commercial uses that will pay both property and income taxes as well. So the real number over 100 years could
far exceed $1 Billion of revenue. I think itís safe to say we could afford to do some work on the bridge at that point.
The Jefferson Tech Park TIF is a great deal. It will bring jobs, housing and revenue to the county and if we spend it wisely thereís no reason we canít afford schools, roads, emergency services and law enforcement.