Highest and Best Use

Like Rich, I don’t really have a strong opinion on Sal Panto’s proposal to move Easton City Hall to the new intermodal building, but generally speaking I think you want your highest value city land to be devoted to taxable uses as much as possible.

The land parcels around Centre Square* are some of the highest value parcels in the city.  Easton’s going to collect more in property taxes with those properties on the tax rolls than if they’re owned by the city or non-profits. The Alpha building is huge and in a great location, so it looks like there’s an opportunity for the city to make some money, first from the sale of the building, and then on an ongoing basis from property taxes.

Little by little, replacing low-value uses on the highest value land with something approximating the highest and best use is a good strategy for firming up Easton’s budget and growing the downtown economy. That could mean trading up for higher-value tenants like in this case, or replacing the worst properties with better buildings (think Family Dollar building, Rock Church, the parking garage, the municipal lot across from the bus station, etc.)

*Always bothered by this spelling. This is America, dammit, not the UK! We spell it Center!



  1. Jack Contado says:

    “highest and best use” as determined, as always, by our intellectually superior masters, the political class

    • Actually John I think Geeting has a point here.

      The reality of it is government is a consumer of wealth through its consumption of taxes with little benefit derived. To allow it to also occupy valuable real estate makes its impact a double-whammy.

      Government should occupy a basement somewhere no one else wants to be.

      • Jon Geeting says:

        I think the benefit from public services is pretty high, but local governments should try to avoid using the highest value land for non-taxable municipal buildings.

        • The benefit may be high, but government fails the cost/benefit test virtually every time. It costs to much for which we get too little out. The biggest driver of cost is of course public employee unions, of which your party is a slavish submissive.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            So join the Democratic Party – the only one that believes in the value of public services – and be an advocate for cost-effective administration of services. You can’t get better outcomes by supporting the anti-government party. They’re for spending cuts because they hate the underlying services, not because they’re interested in making them run more effectively.

          • The Democratic party doesn’t want cost-effective services, that runs afoul of pumping all the taxpayer $$ they can into the unions so the unions can turn around and make their campaign contributions so the same Democrat politicians can get re-elected.

            And the taxpayer gets bent over again and again.

            That’s your party Jon. Whores, one and all.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            American political parties are highly permeable. If you’re for public services, but also for cost-effectiveness, there is an opportunity for you to get involved and volunteer for candidates who share your views in primaries.

          • Thank you for making the case for ticket splitting! What you outlined is exactly what I do.

          • Jon Geeting says:

            It’s the opposite of the case for ticket splitting. My point is that you should pick the party who most fits your views and vote for all their general election candidates. Then you have to work in party primaries to shape the party direction to your liking. If you like quality public services but are concerned about cost effectiveness, then you need to back Democrats who agree with you about that. Ticket splitting only produces gridlock, not moderate thoughtful policies.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      It’s determined by the value of the location and the allowable land use.

      • Actually n0 – most of these kinds of projects are determined by ego.

        Cases in point – President Judge Steinberg ripping Don Cunningham for not building court rooms “befitting the majesty of the court” – meaning 5x as expensive. The John Murtha Center for Public Service, located in scenic Johnstown, PA. The Arlen Specter Library, for which Uncle Barack graciously gave $10 million out of stimulus funds.

        I could go on forever, but the truth of the matter is that whenever a public project like this is proposed the first place you look for a reason is who’s ego needs attention.

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