Revenue from sales and property taxes would largely offset the costs local governments would incur providing services to UNC Chapel Hill’s proposed Carolina North campus, according to a new study.
A fiscal impact analysis by economic planning consultant TischlerBise examined the direct and indirect financial affects that a first-phase, 15-year development of Carolina North would have on Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County, the three local governments that would have to provide services to the new campus.
The direct impact on the town of Chapel Hill would be the most significant — a $12 million loss over 15 years — due to a new fire station needed in the ninth year of the plan.
But the direct and indirect impacts on the other governments are largely a wash, the report concludes. The findings help the university’s case, since a key component to the planning of the new campus was to make sure Carolina North was a revenue-neutral enterprise.
“This [report] says it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to make this fiscally neutral,” said Jack Evans, the Carolina North project’s executive director.
While university functions aren’t taxed, the project expects to incorporate tax-paying private enterprise as well.
Reached late this afternoon, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy said he had not yet had time to synthesize but he was pleased to have it.
"It gives us something to work from; it's information," Foy said. "We're going to have to look at it in some depth and come to some conclusions on how to proceed."
The 70-page report is heavy on data and detail; its table of contents stretches to three full pages. All fiscal impacts are examined under two development scenarios. Under one, the lion’s share of housing is developed early in the 15-year plan. In the other scenario, more corporate office space is built early on.
A few highlights:
• The report assumes the university would provide its own police coverage and pick up its own trash and recycling, but Chapel Hill would provide fire coverage.
• Orange County would would do well financially under either scenario, netting a surplus of $13.8 million under the housing-first scenario and $16.4 million if office space is developed earlier.
• The study assumes a project start date of 2011.
Click on this blog post's attachment to read the report.