Driving around Richardson over the last four years, I’m sure you’ve noticed the extensive growth of apartments. Some people will see this as the natural byproduct of a healthy growing city. Some people will be quick to point out that this will be a wonderful boon to local property tax revenue. However, there are many factors that need to be considered before adding density.
Our existing and aging infrastructure will have to absorb heavier use. Water and sewer lines will carry more volume which accelerates their deterioration and destruction. Who then pays for the repair and replacement of these utilities? The citizens. So that cuts into the additional property tax revenue from the multi-family units. We’ll be adding more cars to our streets with increased density as well. If it were just a question of a slightly longer commute time, then the impact would be negligible. However, the impact does not stop there. Additional cars on the road means the roads require costly maintenance more often. The money from those road repairs has to come from somewhere. So that’s more money out of that additional property tax revenue.
For our health and safety departments (police, fire, etc) to remain effective, they try to keep a reasonable ratio between first responders and citizen population. As we increase the population, we need to increase the number of first responders. To keep our talented and essential first responders, we need to pay them competitive wages. In order to keep up with the growing population, we’ll need to hire additional first responders. Again, that money has to come out of the additional property tax revenue from the multi-family units. We’re also going to need to pay for additional waste services workers and equipment.
This additional population will also put additional strain on our schools. As additional children are added to the schools, our student teacher ratio will degrade. You can resolve this issue by expanding the schools and hiring more teachers. That is a very expensive fix to a problem that can be avoided. When you add all of these additional costs together, you quickly find that the additional property tax revenue does not cover the additional costs of managing our city. This doesn’t even begin to factor in the negative impact on property values of existing homes. As apartments age, they generally have a negative impact on the units around them. So that takes even more money out of the city’s property tax revenue. Of course, you could always raise property taxes in order to subsidize the added growth.
As mayor, I will not support additional multi-family zoning of any kind. I will work to prevent additional units being added to current multi-family units. I will ensure there is strict code enforcement on existing multi-family units as well. Let’s keep Richardson’s growth responsible.