Planning and Finance Series: Tax Incentives at the Local Level

Recently, the Weyerhaeuser Corporation announced that they were relocating their corporate headquarters from their spacious 430-acre suburban office park campus in the City of Federal Way to Pioneer Square, a dense historic area in downtown Seattle. To planners, this is a fascinating announcement that runs counter to decades of business migration out of central cities to suburban office parks.

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Planning and Finance Series: Property Taxes and Local Tax Structures

In this column, I will expand on that discussion by exploring how the variation in the role of property taxes in local government from state to state might shape the operations of local government.

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Planning and Finance Series: Property Taxes Among the Various States

Property taxes are the lifeblood of local government. In every state, local governments use property taxes to a significant degree to fund local governmental functions and services. The property tax is also one of the most controversial of taxes. The property tax is a very complex tax system that varies substantially from state to state. Instead of being conscious of the differences, we instead tend to think that property taxes are similar to the system in our own state because that is the one we know. However, that is far from the case.

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Planning and Finance Series: Fun with Bond Financing

Bond financing can be a complex topic. A better understanding of the dynamics of bond financing is needed to avoid harmful misunderstandings by the media that mislead the public.

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Planning and Finance Series: When is a user fee not a user fee?

As tax revenues become more and more constrained, local governments have turned increasingly to other ways to finance services and facilities. One of the more popular sources of alternative revenue is user fees that finance services or facilities by fees charged to use those services or facilities.As tax revenues become more and more constrained, local governments have turned increasingly to other ways to finance services and facilities. One of the more popular sources of alternative revenue is user fees that finance services or facilities by fees charged to use those services or facilities.

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Planning and Finance Series: Risky Business

Columnist Patrick L. Dugan reviews how financial risk in local government involves investing money directly and using capital facilities to promote community development

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Planning and Finance Series: Priming the Planning Pump – The Legacy of HUD 701 Grants

Ever wonder how comprehensive planning got started in your community? If you are in a small- to mid-size community, chances are that planning began with a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 701 grant made to your community between 1954 and 1981.

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Planning and Finance Series: Integrating perspectives from planners, engineers and finance officials

This article will, albeit somewhat simplistically, attempt to illustrate these divergent views and suggest a paradigm for integrating them.  While obviously the actual views of real planners, engineers, and finance officials are more complex than as simply illustrated here, I hope that my thumbnail portrayal of views will provide some food for thought.

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Planning and Finance Series: The dangers and opportunities of having too much money

Since there are quite a few places in various parts of the country that may be benefiting from energy development of various forms, it might be useful to consider the implications of a sudden, and likely temporary, revenue boost.

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PLANNING AND FINANCE SERIES: Canadian resource gives comprehensive overview of capital financing strategies

 Through this process, I have come across a comprehensive overview of the complexities of financing capital improvements: New Tools for New Times: A Sourcebook for the Financing, Funding and Delivery of Urban Infrastructure, by Casey Vander Ploeg published by the Canadian West Foundation, September 2006. I recommend this resource to any planner who is interested in getting either an overview of capital finance or developing an in-depth knowledge of various options and strategies for financing capital facilities.

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PLANNING AND FINANCE SERIES: If high density reduces costs, why are public services in New York City so costly?

The reason services are so costly in New York City, in spite of its density, is because the diseconomies of scale associated with its size outweigh the economies of density derived from its high density of development. These two different economic terms, “economies of scale” and “economies of density,” are often confused with each other. 

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PLANNING AND FINANCE SERIES: THE PRICE OF SPRAWL: PERVERSE CITIES

A book by Pamela Blais, Perverse Cities presents an excellent analysis of urban sprawl and why our planning efforts to curtail sprawl have tended to fail. 

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