Municipal Governments and Financial Stability
The city recognizes its responsibility to help create a sustainable community. Part of that responsibility is to evaluate the role of municipal government in providing community services and to align organizational goals, projects and finances with the community’s vision for the future and the strategies in this plan. Specifically, municipal government should consider:
Minimizing the Adverse Municipal Fiscal Impacts of Development
Our municipal government should minimize the adverse municipal fiscal impacts of development by only allowing development where existing community infrastructure already exists. If infrastructure is expanded, the city should continue with the policy that the developer bear the cost of the expansion, unless the development is part of a planned, collaborative project to generate skilled, living-wage jobs, lower taxes and raise quality of life. The City of Keene should consider preparing a fiscal-impact assessment to determine the current costs of development and an appropriate impact assessment and fee program to address shortfalls if other social and economic goals are not met. It may also be prudent to consider expansion of the Tax Increment Financing District and/or use of other incentives to improve local projects, provide encouragement to developers and improve the community’s tax base.
Diversifying revenue streams to support municipal operations
The City of Keene already seeks alternative revenue streams. This effort should continue and expand. The city may, for example, want to consider matching land-use changes and improvements with the ability to raise revenue through Payment in Lieu of Taxes. The city also could consider leading an effort at the state level to increase authority for municipalities to develop and implement non-property-tax local revenue sources. Regardless of the tactic, the city will remain committed to exploring the development of additional revenue streams in an equitable and consistent manner for all.
Keene should proactively work with planners and developers to identify areas in the community that are appropriate for redevelopment and will substantially improve the tax base by attracting new industrial uses, light manufacturing and other highly skilled, high paying jobs. The development of large-scale retail, while somewhat desirable, should not be the primary type of economic development pursued. Such development provides few living-wage jobs, limits employee benefits, and creates part-time jobs that are not sustainable for the livelihood of employees. Oftentimes, large-scale retail development costs more in community services than the gain in tax revenue. The community and city should set the bar high to attract and recruit living-wage jobs and focus on economic-development opportunities that maximize benefits to both the quality of life and the tax base.
City and School District Budgeting
While the City of Keene and the school district are separate entities, it is recommended that municipal government collaborate with the school board to align city and school budgets with the community’s vision for the future, land-use goals, and overall community financial needs.