Fiscal impact analysis changes development plans

By Debbie Dalhouse

Economic DevelopmentA Clemson economic development team is changing the way that Lancaster County looks at new residential development. The team reviewed costs and benefits associated with proposals for several new residential developments and discovered that the county would actually lose money on the projects.

Proposals to add 13,500 new homes would have cost the county more to build the infrastructure and provide additional services than it could collect in property taxes. The deficit would have exceeded $5 million over a 10-year period.

“We didn’t tell the Lancaster County Council not to add the new developments,” said Bill Molnar, team leader. “We gave them some options to consider before they made a decision.” Team members from Clemson’s Institute for Economic and Community Development and the Strom Thurmond Institute conduct similar studies for cities and counties across the state.

As a result of the analysis, Lancaster County officials made significant policy changes for residential development. New fees and developer requirements will fund library, recreation, fire and EMS facilities. A new fee system will fund additional fire and EMS personnel. As a result, the county is no longer looking at a deficit when the new neighborhoods are developed.

“I can’t thank Clemson enough,” said Chap Hurst, Lancaster County administrator. “Rural counties are dealing with demands we’ve never faced before. This study is the first time we’ve been able to demonstrate the cost of new housing developments.”

For information: Bill Molnar, 803-788-5700, ext. 25,