Message from the President...
In the past couple of weeks, the APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) petition circulated by (QAC Great Schools- 3 citizen sponsors) was created to cause fear of having overcrowded schools in the immediate future! This cannot be further from the truth!! Who in their right mind wants to have overcrowding in our schools?
Note: The APFO is a multi-complex temporary timing tool to be used in conjunction with the Comprehensive Plan--to make it work, one needs to analyze ALL the components for each proposed plan and pulling out one segment (schools) is a slick way to confuse the parents and residents alike. The QAC COMPREHENSIVE PLAN is the foundation for all decision-making in matters involving land use planning and growth management.
Did you know that if you live in towns such as Centreville, Queenstown, Barclay, Church Hill, Sudlersville and Millington-this issue does not apply to you or school capacity! They govern their own building permits and have their own zoning laws.
The threshold of 120% school capacity is the healthiest vs. the 100% petition driven claim!
Recently, the commissioners have returned the threshold from 100% to the traditional 120% to ensure that we have healthy schools and a healthy economy. Former commissioner Ransom lowered the threshold to 100% a few years ago to bow down to the environmental group and growth control pressures. This petition was masqueraded as a means to stop overcrowding, but in reality it is a means to stop All development--commercialism and residential. The builder's product is, after all, only in demand because of the job growth - and this is greatly lacking in QAC!
So, why the big uproar? Why the need for such a petition? When all we have to do is look at Talbot County and watch them flourish while QAC time after time chases business away to neighboring counties. Try to get a consensus from the growth control advocates on where the additional housing, new business and new neighbors should live- and don't be surprised if it's not in my back yard or school district.
Keep QAC eligible for state matching funds to build new schools!
Although, there are a range of factors to determine when a school reaches its capacity, it is noted that if we maintain the 100% threshold; we are simply disqualifying QAC from any potential state funded matching monies to build new schools. Vying for competing funds is a pursuit in every jurisdiction and one way is keeping the 120% threshold; QAC schools will be in a favorable position to be viewed as a priority by the State to provide matching school funds. In other words, why would the State feel the need to help out QAC when the school population is only at 100% and other counties are way over that percentage? Right now, only Queen Anne's County high school has reached its capacity by 75 students according to the QAC Board of Education. Currently, the QACHS population is 1210 and the school was constructed for 1135 students.
What causes Past and Future Growth in Student Enrollment?
Birth rates, student migration from private schools, immigration to QAC from other parts of the country, turnover of existing houses from older persons to younger families with young or school age children and new job growth and residential construction. (Future trends of home sales have yet to emerge in the aftermath of the recent recession and our job growth is terribly lacking.)
Portables have been used for decades without impacting the quality of education.
Currently, there's 29 portables located at 9 of our schools (we have 15 schools). QAC graduates some 600 students a year, more than enough to make up for any new students entering the system. "No significant impact of portable classrooms on teacher perception, teacher morale, teacher job satisfaction, student achievement, and behavior is detected." Source: NCEF-National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities
QAC building industry is off by more than 70%, this translates into a greatly reduced revenue stream for our local government to pay its bills.
In the last two years, only 195 new homes were constructed...with an APFO in place, no builder can develop a tract of land unless the supporting county infrastructure (schools, roads, water supply, waste water disposal etc...) are in place. So if a developer builds a subdivision, their plans/concepts have to pass numerous APFO measurements that are aligned with the Comprehensive Plan and are forced to shoulder the social cost (Impact Fees) of extending the public facilities. At the 100% threshold rate, that means a developer/builder would have to pay for school construction. And that isn't going to happen, merely because there are no developers/builders who want to go bankrupt. Currently, most new residential construction will likely be mixed use buildings/multi-family apartments, as a result of minimal space left in the County under the zoning guidelines.
Example: Say a TARGET retail store wants to open in QAC--(after going thru numerous critical reviews and studies and spending thousands of dollars), Target would have to pay for any improvements to the roads, sewer, water, disposals etc. to ensure the adequacies are met for the health and welfare of our residents. Businesses like Target, Penny's, Giant, etc., always financially support schools and charities-just look in the Star Democrat newspaper in Talbot county.
A new 2,500 sf home will pay an $11,250 Impact Fee ($9,200 to schools, $1,050 to fire/EMS and $1,000 to parks and recreation).
Every new home built in the County that is not an "age-restricted community" pays an Impact Fee that generates revenue for schools, fire and emergency services and parks and recreation. The Impact Fee for a new home is $4.50/sf with $3.68/sf allocated for schools, $0.42/sf allocated for Fire and Emergency services and $0.40/sf allocated for parks and recreation facilities. Once that home is built it then generates annual property tax revenue and its occupants generate annual income tax revenues which come back to the County General Fund used to pay for school operating expenses and other County services.
Many of the opponents do not seem to understand that by trying to stop residential development they are also stopping the flow of new revenue used to support and build the schools they seek to protect and enhance. New homes do create additional students but they also create additional funding. Without this additional funding, the burden for paying for our schools will fall almost exclusively on the existing taxpayers.
We are human beings, who grow up, have babies and need homes and jobs. We aren't going away.
Developers, bankers, real estate agents, surveyors, engineers, title company owners, carpenters, painters, carpet layers, service/retail suppliers etc. are the people in the community that create jobs, fill vacant properties, hire local contractors, frequent restaurants and donate thousands to school athletics, activities and County sports/parks etc.!
People who moved here in the last 15-20 years, now, want to decide, "Who can move here and who can't!" If you moved here--YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
The no growth organizations promoting the overcrowded schools myth tout the so-called quality of life, at the expense of shutting down the local economy. And forcing residents to pay for higher property taxes, travel hundreds of miles to work and shop year after year and watch our quality schools produce the finest students, only to realize the odds of them returning to work and live in QAC are slim for the lack of housing and job/commercial opportunities.
We cannot continue restricting the property rights of owners or the ability of business owners and potential business to minimize the risks involved in creating, expanding and opening shop in QAC.