If lawmakers can’t come to an agreement about the looming fiscal cliff, Charlottesville and Albemarle County could lose some important sources of funding. A study says one way to fill in that gap could be to curb population growth.
A study released Thursday says while population growth sounds like it would be good for the economy because it brings in more workers and more shoppers, that may not actually be the case. Population growth is actually creating a deficit.
The study, funded by the Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population, compared the revenue Charlottesville and Albemarle residents create through property taxes with the cost of services the local governments provide to those residents. It found a deficit in both the city and the county.
Both governments spend thousands of dollars more on services for residents than they make on property taxes. The study suggests population growth is costing the city and the county money.
“We really need to put population in as part of the comprehensive plan process, rather than assuming that we’re going to grow and it’s good, we need to really look at that in terms of fiscal economics,” said study director Craig Evans. “The other thing that needs to be done is the public needs to know that the mantra ‘growth is good’ is not necessarily true.”
Evans says the findings are particularly striking in light of the fiscal cliff, because Charlottesville and Albemarle will have a bigger funding gap to fill if negotiations don’t come through before the end of the year.
The study also suggests that because bringing in new businesses fuels population growth, new businesses may not be the answer to filling the deficit either.
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