Kent County’s elected officials are betting on growth to solve the monumental financial obligations they face. However, upon examining the circumstances that have led to the convergence of numerous neglected infrastructure projects – schools, roads, detention center, and courthouse – it becomes evident that the development of warehousing and other projects along the 301 corridor is a continuation of a Ponzi Scheme.
The county is banking on new revenues from the Everton Distribution Project as well as other 301 corridor developments to offset current obligations and Kirwin. However, the Cost of Community Services Study (COCS) conducted by the American Farmland Trust shows that for every dollar received from industrial/commercial developments, $0.64 is needed to maintain county services. This amounts to only about one-third of expected property tax revenues being free of encumbrance. However, the county will allocate all revenue from these new development to existing obligations without considering the long-term costs of the deferred maintenance and COCS they have just obligated themselves to.
Ironically, any future development, such as restaurants, convenience stores, or gas stations, would be delayed due to the lack of necessary sewer allocations, Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU), from Millington’s wastewater treatment plant. The proposed warehouse project is likely to utilize any remaining capacity. Consequently, new development would have to be postponed until a new proposed wastewater treatment facility is constructed, along with the necessary water and sewer delivery infrastructure. This new plant will create debt and future maintenance liabilities.
Unfortunately, we do not know the actual financial impacts of mega-sized projects or how they compare to the benefits of other types of development because our officials have not undertaken any thorough economic analysis.
Lest we forget, there have been no thoughtful discussions at the governance level of the cost associated with environmental harms, specifically addressed in our Comprehensive Plan, associated with the proliferation of steel, concrete, and asphalt, as well as the pollution from exhaust fumes emitted by trucks and cars. These have costs that are being ignored despite their negative impacts on the quality of life in Kent County.
It is easy for those residents and their governing bodies in Rock Hall, Galena, and Chestertown to voice support since they will not be impacted by the activity, traffic, and pollution that would degrade their quality of life. It is Millington’s Town Council that understands that the text amendment being enacted to increase the height of industrial buildings by Kent County, on property that has already been agreed upon to be annexed, usurps their ability to guide development with building standards they believe best complement Millington’s residents. This is why they oppose the height text amendment. Furthermore, it is those who live in this sacrifice zone, masquerading as economic development for the county, who will lose.
It is important to recognize that Ponzi Schemes are inherently precarious, challenging to sustain, and ultimately will impact everyone in some way or another.