To Grow Your Tax Base, Allow More Urban Infill

In this era of tight budgets, cities are looking for ways to grow their tax bases without asking individual households to contribute more taxes. Here’s the first place they should look.

Different kinds of buildings yield different amounts of property tax revenue per acre. Many areas limit residential development to just one house per acre. How do the property tax collections from that type of zoning regime stack up to the revenues produced by mixed-use buildings? How do these stack up to big box stores like Wal-mart?

Here is a chart from the new Smart Growth America report, showing the municipal property tax yield per acre from different kinds of development in North Carolina:

Why’s this important? Lots of municipalities think they are doing “economic development” by subsidizing, directly or indirectly, big box shopping centers. But in reality, this is the lowest impact type of development there is. Cities who want to grow the local tax base can hardly do better than to simply allow more multi-story mixed-use buildings in their business districts, and more multi-family buildings in their neighborhoods.

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