LETTER: Wellington Needs To Study Cost Of Community Services For Proposed Projects

Has Wellington conducted a local Cost of Community Services Study (COGS) for the Wellington North and South proposed developments?

Infrastructure costs, known as Costs of Community Services (COCS), which are the costs of extending community services such as police, fire, stormwater management, street maintenance, the public school system and trash collection will increase. With the proposed developments, it would be a disproportionate burden to the village government and existing residents, not the developer.

Residential development has a negative impact on local government budgets, meanwhile farm/open space use positively add to local government budgets by bringing in more in revenue than it takes out in community services compared to residential or commercial lands. According to data from the Equine Land Conservation Resource:

“Early COCS studies were done by the American Farmland Trust. However, in recent years, a great number of COCS studies have been conducted by a variety of independent researchers. The results seem to corroborate each other. Virtually all of the studies show that for residential land, the COCS ratio is substantially above. That is, residential development and land use have a negative impact on local government budgets. In other words, the cost of added community services is greater than the increased revenues generated. On average, COCS ratios for residential land range between 1.15 and 1.50. This means that for every dollar collected in taxes and non-tax revenue, between $1.15 and $1.50 is spent by local government on community services. On the other hand, COCS ratios for the other two land use categories are substantially below 1. For commercial or industrial, COCS ratios range from 0.35 to 0.65 and for farmland/open space, the ratios range from 0.30 to 0.50. Clearly, these land use categories add to local government budgets in a positive economic way. These COCS ratios should not be surprising given that the largest single expenditure category for communities, according to the studies, is the public school system, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of government spending. It stands to reason that residential categories will demand greater spending than will commercial development or agricultural categories.”

See article “Costs of Community Services: ELCR” for more info.

Equestrian activities are Wellington’s signature industry and economic driver, and makes up the community’s unique brand. The equine industry creates thousands of jobs and brings in high-value tourism, approximating $500 million annually. The equestrian lifestyle also keeps property values high because it is such a unique and desirable place to live. In short, the equine industry is the “goose that lays the golden egg” in our community, therefore it is vital to limit development that threatens to harm the “goose.” Compared to a typical visitor in a non-equestrian town, equestrian communities attract higher household incomes, higher per diem expenses and longer length of visits. This all increases the revenue to small business and government in the local economy.

Providing an exceptional quality of life difficult to find in other communities, the local horse lands provide many ecological benefits, such as cleaning and cooling the air, aiding in stormwater filtration and decreased stormwater runoff and erosion. These lands also provide the community with beautiful panoramic viewsheds enhancing the local landscapes, as opposed to the unattractive views of additional residential housing and commercial developments. The proposed Wellington North and South developments would only lead to more noise and traffic congestion.

If you oppose this development, please attend the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board meeting Wednesday, July 19 at 7 p.m. at Village Hall and complete public comments at this link: www.wellingtonfl.gov/FormCenter/Planning-Zoning-5/Proposed-Projects-Public-Comment-101.

Maureen Brennan, Wellington


  1. “Costs of Community Services” (COCS), by itself, is an improper and prejudicial method of evaluating the true cost and benefits of residential development as it fails to account for both the ongoing business income generated by the new residents (that keep the local businesses operating) and the increased business tax revenue resulting therefrom.

    The reality is that restrictive and/or exclusionary zoning not only leads to decreased overall revenue within the municipality but it also contributes to the loss of local businesses and the eventual stagnation of the residential market and the housing values as it forces the potential future buyers to move elsewhere and put down roots there.

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