Carbondale needs smarter plan for growth
December 27, 2011
When Carbondale voters mail in their ballots next month, they won’t be choosing between growth or no growth – they’ll be choosing between smart growth and not-so-smart growth. The Village at Crystal River project could be a good thing for the town, especially if its construction results in the job creation and increased revenue that the “say yes” group is touting. Unfortunately, their projections are based on flawed assumptions and dependent on favorable variances.
The job-creation figures assume that new businesses and new employers open up shop at the Village at Crystal River. In reality, most (if not all) of the tenants will merely be relocating from elsewhere in the valley (probably from elsewhere in town).
Similarly, the increased tax revenue they believe will accrue to the town of Carbondale assumes a very low percentage of “cannibalization” from existing businesses. Unless residents suddenly decide to increase their consumption of groceries, gasoline and other products for sale at the Village at Crystal River, their assumption is false.
Any economic model needs to incorporate a wide variety of variables, such as interest rates, labor costs, demand for goods and services, etc. As a financial analyst, I’ve created many forecasting models, and they always feature “sensitivity analysis,” in which the results are calculated while moving one variable up and down as the remaining ones are
held constant. The job-growth and tax-revenue data in the “say yes” group’s literature are based on an optimistic model in which all variables equal their most favorable value. Such projections are pure fiction and not useful for informed decision-making.
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I believe Carbondale voters are smart enough to do their own critical thinking. Instead of believing the rosy forecast from the “say yes” group, they know that allowing the Village at Crystal River to be built will result in very few new jobs and only a small increase in tax revenues for the town. Let’s vote “no” and tell the developer to come up with a smarter plan for Carbondale’s growth.