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A Review of the Florida Keys Carrying Capacity Study 5 Fiscal Module The Fiscal Module of the Draft CCAM brings together data sets that describe the costs of providing public services in the Florida Keys. Tabulations are compiled from the annual reports of expenditures during FY 1999–2000 for each of the communities. These values are subsequently divided by a population figure to provide per capita costs and reassembled into “planning units.” The actual costs (derived from the tables) plus unfunded liabilities were used to project government expenditures associated with the scenarios. MAJOR CONCERNS Use of 1990 Census Data The methodology applied to the establishment of existing operating costs is rather straightforward. The data are available in Annual Reports, and thus are recorded directly. The addition of the unfunded costs associated with inadequate classroom space and needed wastewater and stormwater improvements are important considerations associated with any future growth and quality issues. The translation of the funded and unfunded expenditures into a per capita cost faces the same criticism levied on other aspects of this study: 1990 figures are used instead of the most recent census data to calculate any population-based value. These should be updated to the 2000 Census data, which would require repeating nearly all subsequent calculations. The additional unfunded expenditure discussed below should also be incorporated into the calculations.
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A Review of the Florida Keys Carrying Capacity Study Demography The assignment of per capita costs assumes a constant demography in the Florida Keys despite the fact that many factors could change aspects, including the proportion of school-age children, the need for medical care, the demand on recreational services, etc. The Final CCAM report should introduce some discussion of this variable and its application. Stormwater/Wastewater Improvements Because the Smart Growth Scenario assumes wastewater and stormwater improvements, the scenario should incorporate these costs—for operation as well as construction—into its output. Upgrades will likely include some sort of subsidy that can be proportionately similar to historical ratios. Land Acquisition and Conversion Acquiring the land being converted into open space also carries a cost, estimated at $48.7 million. While the Draft CCAM report identifies this cost, the Fiscal Module does not include it. In order to incorporate “all possible expenses,” this particular unfunded cost should be factored into the module. Indeed, it could be assigned an output value using some proportion of local versus non-local shares in open-space generation. Furthermore, converting and managing public land incurs another cost that should be incorporated into future scenarios. New costs associated with the growth scenarios also need to be presented as output values. Historical trends and FY 1999–2000 expenditures do not capture the acquisition, conversion, or management costs of changing land use and therefore should not be a part of unfunded costs. Revenue Converting private land to public land removes land from the tax base. The effect of the diminished tax base is diminishing the government’s capacity to generate revenue. The Fiscal Module should account for this decrease through an output that calculates the tax rate needed to support scenario-based government expenditures given in the scenario’s tax base. Editorial Comments The title of Table 4.10 in the Draft CCAM report should indicate that the calculations presented are annual expenditures. In addition, the fourth column from the left is entitled “percentage,” but the values given are not in terms of
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A Review of the Florida Keys Carrying Capacity Study percent. Either the heading or the values should be changed. The values for unfunded liabilities need to be updated to incorporate the 2000 Census data. ADJUSTMENT OF FISCAL MODULE The items addressed in the Fiscal Module are largely spreadsheet-type data sets that can be adjusted and updated fairly easily. Additional components can be easily included in the unfunded expenditures. The solution for incorporating changes in the tax base is less clear. The document should make clear whether the assignment of revenue on a per capita basis accomplishes that distribution by incorporating a percentage increase for each of the steps in implementing the growth scenarios. Costs associated with land use changes, environmental quality improvements, and infrastructure improvements should be incorporated into the Fiscal Module, as they will ultimately be part of the cost of functioning in the communities or planning districts. This information included as input to the Fiscal Module in the “Smart Growth” scenario and any other scenario with adaptations that go beyond current practices such as an addition, carries with it the need for continuous recalculation because these input values will be changing through time.
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