This Summer’s Blockbuster ‘Return of Albemarle Proffers’

Adapted from comments provided to Albemarle County Board of Supervisors 19 June 2019

Happy Summer!

This year’s summer blockbuster could be titled ‘Return of Albemarle Proffers’, ‘Proffers II – A New Beginning” or my favorite, ‘Proffers: Neil’s Infinity War”.  The Free Enterprise Forum has been opposed to the expansion of proffers over the years. We find ourselves in the odd position of supporting this ordinance with great trepidation.

I have provided each of you a copy of our 2013 White Paper Contradictory Consequences. This paper highlights the false promise of cash proffers and, using Albemarle County case studies, proves how proffers discourage the very form of development your comprehensive plan recommends.

Over the years, the Free Enterprise Forum watched Albemarle proffers (both cash and others) ratchet upward. The mantra of the early 2000s was “Well Biscuit Run agreed to this high proffer, why won’t you?” Today, partially because of the proffers agreed to, your development area has a 12-hundred-acre hole in it.

voluntary-memeWhile supportive of this regulatory fix to the proffer regulation that will allow discussion between the applicant and the locality, we approach this proffer revival with great trepidation. The annual increases in cash proffer amounts serve as a reminded that the so called ‘voluntary’ proffer program has never seemed exceedingly voluntary.

Often localities see proffers as “free” support for their Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The reality is that proffers, like any business tax, are not paid by the business. These costs are either passed on to the end user, if the market will bear, or factored into a reduced cost for land acquisition. Neither are a good options Albemarle County.

The Free Enterprise Forum asks the Albemarle Supervisors to provide direction for staff regarding the discussion of proffers. We believe such discussions should be limited to the four primary areas of impact:

  • Public Safety
  • Schools
  • Transportation
  • Parks.

We ask that any proffer calculations address only the projected impacts of the proposed development recognizing much of Albemarle existing CIP needs are currently underfunded. We do not believe Albemarle County’s failure to provide adequate infrastructure spending should fall to the new home buyer.

As always, thank you for your service and thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

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