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Cost of Community Services

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Studies looking at the Cost of Community Services are becoming increasingly popular in recent years as an inexpensive way of looking at the fiscal relationships of existing land uses. The studies are snapshots in time of the costs verses revenues for each type of land use. They provide baseline information to help local officials and citizens make informed land use and policy decisions.

The studies employ the fiscal analysis of various land uses to determining the impact that different forms of land use have on local government budgets.

Costs of Community Services studies traditionally divided land use into three categories: residential, commercial/industrial, and farmland/open space. Most studies use financial records to calculate a COCS ratio for each land use category. The ratio compares how many dollars worth of local government services are demanded per dollar collected. A ratio greater than 1.0 suggests that for every dollar of revenue collected for a given category of land, more than one dollar is spent in association with it.

To complete a COCS study three basic steps must be followed. Data about local revenues and expenditures must be collected. Then the revenues and expenditures must be grouped according to the land use categories identified. Finally, the data is analyzed using the ratio calculated for each category.

The process as identified above is not complicated. However, interpreting the financial data and allocating revenues and expense requires a great deal of time and local input. Researchers must meet with local representative and administrators to accurately distribute the revenues and expense across the study categories. This is a time consuming process that involves input from every department and agency.

Augusta County faces many challenges as the area experiences rapid growth. The County has committed itself to the preservation of the existing community and rural heritage. The cost of Community Services Study has been completed to provide local officials with information to help them balance the future growth of the County with the existing needs of the community.

To request information about the most recent Cost of Community Services Study for Augusta County please contact the County Administrator's Office at 540-245-5610.