Taking no action will NOT result in no costs. There will be an increase in costs to taxpayers, whether or not Broadacres Farm is purchased by the Town, or if it is sold to developers, and the new development leads to an increased demand for municipal services. What might happen?
Sudbury residents have seen what happens when large parcels of land go up for sale – the Johnson Farm 40B proposal with 313 housing units, the Sudbury Station 40B proposal with 250 housing units, Melone Property proposal with 330 units, etc. We have learned the hard way how important it is to protect open space in town.
- 40B? Immediately, or in 10 years from a developer “land bank?” Another Sudbury Station?
- Traffic impacts, right between Town Center, Featherland Park, LSRHS, and two elementary schools?
- Loss of ecosystem services, like drinking water recharge, floodwater absorption, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem diversity?
- Instead of a natural area helping to protect drinking water and prevent flooding, there will be additional demand for water and other stresses on the natural environment.
What are the anticipated costs?
The estimated impact of increasing future fiscal year’s taxes to pay for the estimated debt issuance of $3,660,000 (the purchase price after buying Parcel 1 with $1.9 million in CPA funds) is estimated at $53 for year 1 and decreasing annually to approximately $30 in year 20 for the “average” home value of $726,960. The taxes will not be initiated until the later phases of the project acquisition transpire (within 10 years). Project funding and acquisition will only advance if the ballot question passes at the November 6th election.
What might additional costs because of increased Town services due to development be?
If the land is developed with new homes, there will be additional costs to taxpayers, due to increased demand for Town services. Let’s look at what the additional demand for services in the schools might be.
- Assume 10 Homes (this is on the most conservative end of estimates)
- Assume 2 student per house
- So, 20 students in the new development (again, this is on the most conservative end of estimates)
- There are 5,951 Housing Units in Sudbury, according to 2016 U.S. Census
- The Sudbury K-8 school system spent $15,258.96 per pupil in 2016, according to the Massachusetts Department of Education website – and this figure increases every year.
So let’s figure out how much money those additional students would cost the school system, and then divide that total across all the homes in Sudbury, as a rough estimate of how much the additional town services due to development of Broadacres Farm might cost the town.
- 20 x $15,258.96 = $305,179.20 in additional school spending
- 305,179.20 in new spending divided by 5,951 homes in Sudbury
= $51.28 per household per year
With a purchase price of $5.5 million, with $2 million paid immediately by CPA funds, the remaining $3.5 million will add to the average tax bill by about $53 per household per year, over a 20 year debt payment.
The estimated $53/year cost, however, will decline every year down to $30 in year 20, and then disappear.
Additional municipal costs due to development would conservatively begin at $51 per year and only increase.
Studies show that residential land costs Towns approximately $1.15 in municipal services for every $1 raised in tax revenue. We all know, the costs for schools and Town services go up each year. A one-time purchase of the land would protect it forever, and the repayment costs would never increase. Costs for maintenance, signage, etc., would be minimal, and maybe even born by local land trust organizations and/or volunteers. As the above calculations show, it makes financial sense to purchase Broadacres Farm for preservation.