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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per Capita Costs of Population Growth

To Local Communities*

April, 1997

 

This report provides an estimate of some of the per capita public costs of population growth —the costs associated with new housing built to accommodate an increasing population.1 It was developed from a baseline set of key cost factors, and serves as a starting point in assessing the actual public costs of population growth in communities across the nation.

Several studies have shown that population growth never pays for itself, and virtually always encumbers the existing residents with costs. Even when local community governments collect various fees or other assessments on new residential developments, such revenues do not even come close to compensating local communities for the actual costs of population growth. The question is how large the actual burden will be on the local taxpayers of an area, not whether there will be such a subsidy. "Growth management" policies which accompany such subsidies simply continue to encourage population growth.


Method

To provide an initial rule of thumb figure reflecting potential per capita costs of population growth in selected areas around the country, a representative case was developed based on a recent study, by Energy & Environmental Planning Associates (EEPA) of Eugene, Oregon.2 The EEPA study estimated the public costs resulting from the construction of a single-family house in the state of Oregon, for the following selected infrastructure categories:3

- Educational facilities
- Water service
- Sanitary sewer service
- Fire protection/Emergency medical
-Storm sewer service
- Parkland
- Transportation
- Recreation facilities


As the EEPA study demonstrates, the public cost from these categories associated with the construction of a typical single-family house in Oregon is approximately $24, 500.4

Using this core of infrastructure costs from the EEPA study, reasonable extrapolations can be made by developing an appropriate multiplier and then adding in other elements from the actual costs in a given local area. (Consideration could also be given to "costs" which are less tangible, such as diminished environmental values, livability standards and other quality of life issues which may or may not be measurable in strictly economic terms —but these are not addressed here.)

Given an assumed typical family size of 3.1, the local per capita cost of infrastructure was computed on the basis of the Oregon typical new house example. The per capita figure provides a starting point for calculating additional costs as individuals are added to the local population. That is, using the Oregon calculation as a base, the resulting per capita cost figure is the cost of each additional person added to the population of a given area, on average.5

To estimate the per capita public infrastructure cost for localities other than in the state of Oregon, an appropriate multiplier was developed to apply to metropolitan areas in the various states. First, the average per home cost was obtained using data from the National Association of Homebuilders and others. A multiplier was then created for each metropolitan area, using Oregon costs as a baseline.

The assumption underlying the calculation of the multiplier is that higher housing costs reflect urbanization, especially increased land costs. A moment's reflection will show that each of the selected infrastructure costs considered in the Oregon study are, generally, higher as an area is increasingly urbanized.

Therefore, our multiplier uses the average per house cost in Oregon as the denominator and the average per house cost in the selected state as the numerator. This fraction was multiplied by the per house infrastructure cost in Oregon ($24,502) to yield the rough estimated public infrastructure cost per house elsewhere. This result was then divided by 3.1 individuals per household to get the per capita figure as presented in the following table. National household survey data show this number of persons (3.1) is the average for a 3-bedroom house, and that the 3-bedroom house overwhelmingly dominates the single family housing market.

So, if in metropolitan area X the average cost to purchase a newly constructed home is 10% higher than the average cost of purchasing a new home in Oregon, then we assume that the average infrastructure costs in metropolitan area X are 10% higher than in Oregon.6 The Oregon study and this report also assume 6000 sq. ft. /lot (6 homes per acre).

Caveat: The summary table is a rough rule of thumb of baseline per capita costs accruing to local taxpayers. It should be kept in mind that not all infrastructure elements are added in these calculations. Libraries, various energy distribution systems, air and water quality control costs, natural resource consumption, intangibles such as degradation of the quality of everyday life caused by loss of wildlife habitat, increased traffic congestion and extended commute times, as well as higher costs of housing and of living in general are not included. Thus, these costs are representative and do not necessarily reflect the actual cost for any individual community, and they apply to residential development only. Commercial and industrial development place additional burdens on public resources which are not included. (See Appendix A for examples of costs not included and a more comprehensive table with additional statistical information on metropolitan areas grouped by state.)

In general, higher per capita taxes are necessary to pay for the shortfalls, and these taxes are paid by everyone in the community, not just the newcomers. Therefore, the per capita figures on the tables must be considered very conservative estimates, to be used as baseline indicators of the effect on local taxpayers. Per capita costs will vary with particular community features, including amenities, and with the dominant new-housing type built in that community.

 

Baseline Per Capita Costs of Population Growth

City & Area

State

$ Cost Per Added Person

Birmingham

AL

7,000

Columbus

AL

6,000

Mobile

AL

6,800

Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers

AR

6,800

Little Rock- N. Little Rock

AR

6,400

Memphis

AR

5,600

Las Vegas

AZ

8,000

Phoenix-Mesa

AZ

8,100

Tucson

AZ

7,600

Bakersfield

CA

6,100

Chico-Paradise

CA

6,900

Fresno

CA

7,100

Los Angeles-Long Beach

CA

10,700

Merced

CA

6,500

Modesto

CA

7,200

Oakland

CA

13,200

Orange County

CA

12,800

Redding

CA

7,300

Riverside-San Bernardino

CA

7,600

Sacramento

CA

9,200

Salinas

CA

11,400

San Diego

CA

11,100

San Francisco

CA

18,700

San Jose

CA

16,100

San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles

CA

10,400

Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc

CA

11,200

Santa Cruz-Watsonville

CA

14,200

Santa Rosa

CA

12,500

Stockton-Lodi

CA

8,800

Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa

CA

10,300

Ventura

CA

12,800

Visalia-Tulare-Porterville

CA

6,100

Yolo

CA

9,800

Yuba City

CA

6,800

Boulder-Longmont

CO

10,200

Colorado Springs

CO

8,000

Denver

CO

8,500

Fort Collins-Loveland

CO

9,200

Greeley

CO

7,700

Pueblo

CO

6,000

Danbury

CT

14,900

Hartford

CT

8,500

New Haven-Meriden

CT

8,300

New London-Norwich

CT

8,100

Waterbury

CT

8,700

Worchester

CT

7,800

Washington

DC

9,800

Wilmington-Newark

DE

8,000

Daytona Beach

FL

5,100

Fort Lauderdale

FL

6,800

Fort Myers-Cape Coral

FL

5,800

Ft. Pierce Port St. Lucie

FL

5,400

Fort Walton Beach

FL

5,800

Gainesville

FL

5,200

Jacksonville

FL

6,000

Lakeland-Winter Haven

FL

4,700

Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay

FL

5,400

Miami

FL

6,400

Naples

FL

8,100

Ocala

FL

4,400

Orlando

FL

6,100

Pensacola

FL

5,400

Punta Gorda

FL

4,800

Sarasota-Bradenton

FL

6,200

Tallahassee

FL

6,100

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

FL

5,300

W. Palm Beach-Boca Raton

FL

7,700

Atlanta

GA

7,800

Columbus

GA

6,000

Macon

GA

5,800

Honolulu

HI

15,500

Davenport-Moline Rock Island

IA

4,800

Des Moines

IA

5,900

Omaha

IA

6,200

Champaign-Urbana

IL

5,800

Chicago

IL

9,300

Davenport-Moline-Rock Island

IL

4,800

Peoria-Pekin

IL

5,100

Rockford

IL

5,900

St. Louis

IL

6,500

Springfield

IL

5,900

Cincinnati

IN

6,500

Elkhart-Goshen

IN

6,100

Fort Wayne

IN

6,200

Indianapolis

IN

8,100

Louisville

IN

6,100

South Bend

IN

5,800

Kansas City

KS

6,200

Cincinnati

KY

6,500

Lexington

KY

6,100

Louisville

KY

6,100

Baton Rouge

LA

5,600

Houma

LA

5,000

Lafayette

LA

5,800

New Orleans

LA

5,400

Shreveport-Bossier City

LA

5,300

Barnstable-Yarmouth

MA

8,300

Boston

MA

9,500

Lawrence

MA

9,800

Lowell

MA

11,500

New Bedford

MA

8,100

Pittsfield

MA

6,600

Springfield

MA

6,800

Worchester

MA

7,800

Baltimore

MD

8,500

Hagerstown

MD

7,100

Washington

MD

9,800

Wilmington-Newark

MD

8,000

Portsmouth-Rochester

ME

8,800

Ann Arbor

MI

9,000

Benton Harbor

MI

6,200

Detroit

MI

7,700

Grand Rapids-Muskegon- Holland

MI

5,800

Kalamazoo-Battle Creek

MI

5,200

Lansing-East Lansing

MI

5,800

Duluth-Superior

MN

4,900

Fargo-Moorhead

MN

6,900

Minneapolis-St. Paul

MN

7,300

Kansas City

MO

6,200

St. Louis

MO

6,500

Biloxi-Gulfport-Pascagoula

MS

4,900

Hattiesburg

MS

4,900

Memphis

MS

5,600

Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point

NC

7,500

Norfolk-VA. Beach-Newport News

NC

6,400

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill

NC

9,000

Fargo-Moorhead

ND

6,900

Lincoln

NE

5,800

Omaha

NE

6,200

Boston

NH

9,500

Lawrence

NH

9,800

Lowell

NH

11,500

Nashua

NH

7,900

Portsmouth-Rochester

NH

8,800

Atlantic-Cape May

NJ

6,300

Bergen-Passaic

NJ

11,200

Jersey City

NJ

8,800

Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon

NJ

11,400

Newark

NJ

10,700

Philadelphia

NJ

8,900

Trenton

NJ

8,400

Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton

NJ

5,100

Albuquerque

NM

9,400

Las Vegas

NV

8,000

Reno

NV

9,200

Albany-Schenectady-Troy

NY

6,100

Binghampton

NY

5,600

Buffalo-Niagara Falls

NY

6,500

Nassau-Suffolk

NY

11,100

New York

NY

11,200

Rochester

NY

6,900

Syracuse

NY

6,000

Akron

OH

6,100

Canton-Massillon

OH

5,600

Cincinnati

OH

6,500

Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria

OH

6,300

Columbus

OH

7,300

Dayton-Springfield

OH

5,800

Hamilton-Middletown

OH

6,500

Lima

OH

4,600

Mansfield

OH

4,700

Toledo

OH

5,400

Youngstown-Warren

OH

4,700

Oklahoma City

OK

5,200

Tulsa

OK

5,600

Portland-Vancouver

OR

9,000

Salem

OR

6,800

Allentown-Bethelem-Easton

PA

6,400

Harrisburg-Lebanon-Carlisle

PA

6,300

 Lancaster

PA

 6,900

 Philadelphia

PA

 8,900

 Pittsburgh

PA

 5,200

 Reading

PA

 6,600

 State College

PA

 7,100

 Williamsport

PA

4,700 

New London-Norwich

RI

8,100

Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket

RI

7,200

Charleston-N. Charleston

SC

6,300

Columbia

SC

6,100

Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson

SC

6,200

Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol

TN

5,100

Knoxville

TN

5,800

Memphis

TN

5,600

Nashville

TN

7,100

Amarillo

TX

5,600

Austin-San Marcos

TX

8,900

Beaumont-Port Arthur

TX

5,000

Brazoria

TX

6,800

Corpus Christi

TX

6,200

Dallas

TX

8,400

E1 Paso

TX

6,000

Fort Worth-Arlington

TX

7,100

Houston

TX

6,700

Laredo

TX

5,900

Lubbock

TX

5,800

San Antonio

TX

6,700

Tyler

TX

6,300

Provo-Orem

UT

9,200

Salt Lake City-Ogden

UT

9,300

Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol

VA

5,100

Norfolk-Newport News

VA

6,400

Richmond-Petersburg

VA

7,300

Washington

VA

9,800

Burlington

VT

7,500

Portland-Vancouver

WA

9,000

Seattle-Bellevue- Everett

WA

10,400

Tacoma

WA

8,100

Yakima

WA

6,400

Duluth-Superior

WI

4,900

Milwaukee-Waukesha

WI

6,300

Racine

WI

5,200

Washington

WV

9,800


Endnotes

1. The United States population currently grows by nearly 3 million a year, or about 55,000 per week, and is now approaching 270 million. See appendix B in this report for a primer on U. S. population growth.
2. Eben v. Fodor, "The Real Cost of Growth in Oregon," Population and. Environment 18(4) March, 1997.
3. These are selected categories for which costs can be more readily documented and quantified. Not included are a number of other environmental, quality of life, and capital costs. One example of a capital cost not included is electric generating equipment (excluding operating costs), estimated at $1,500 to $4,000 for each additional person. See Appendix A.

4. As a point of comparison, the EEPA study found that public costs for undeveloped land inside urban growth boundaries were generally $15,000 - $35,000 per acre, compared to $147,000 per developed acre.
5. Since costs in some categories (e.g., fire protection) are a step function rather than a smooth linear progression, additional members of a household may not increase costs. The highest cost manifests itself with each addition of a new house or cluster of houses.
6. This is only a first order approximation —more detailed studies should be done to improve the accuracy of these numbers.
_______
Courtesy of Carrying Capacity Network.
* "Per Capita Costs of Population Growth to Local Communities", Starting Point: A Network Report. Carrying Capacity Network. April, 1997
Also available in Carrying Capacity Network's FOCUS Vol. 7, No. 3. 1997.
CCN is a national non-profit advocacy group working to secure the sustainable future of the United States. For more information please visit < http://www.carryingcapacity.org/ >.

 

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