Recently, I heard about an official from a local town saying farms are not considered businesses. While I was disappointed to hear this, albeit secondhand, it is not the first time this has ever been said. And while one of the local farms in that town employs approximately 40 people with some earning salaries of $50,000-plus, we won’t focus on whether a farm is business or not. I think common sense prevails with most officials and they recognize that farms are indeed very valuable businesses to support in their communities.
Instead, let us focus on the cost of community services from “open working land,” “commercial and industrial,” and “residential development” classifications of land use in a community. Cost of Community Services Studies are case studies used to determine revenues versus a community’s public service costs based on current land use. COCS is a snapshot in time of costs versus revenue for each type of land use. Developed by American Farmland Trust in the mid-1980s, COCS studies provide an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure fiscal relationships, putting working and open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial land uses.
According to Rebecca Roberts from the Center for Land Use Education at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, COCS studies cannot predict future revenue or expenditures or analyze specific development proposals. Instead, COCS studies provide a baseline of current information to help local officials make informed land use and policy decisions. [Read more...]