II. Summary of Findings

contents | next section

Scarborough's rate and pattern growth over the past thirty years have transformed the Town into its present-day suburban character. Most of Scarborough's growth has occurred east of the Maine Turnpike with the western half remaining more rural in nature. However, the Town's western section has also recently begun to grow rapidly.

Much of Scarborough's growth is typical of other towns that have undergone similar suburbanization. Land-use patterns are characterized by spread-out residential development that makes difficult the efficient provision of basic services such as police and fire protection and public works. When looked at further in terms of land-use categories, this rate and pattern of growth reveals interesting information about its effects on the fiscal operations of the Town.

This study [1] has found that every dollar spent on Scarborough's Residential land-use brings in $0.78 in revenues. Corresponding expense ratios for Commercial / Industrial and Open Space are: $1.76 and $0.61. Residential and Open Space land-uses, therefore, incur deficits of $0.22 and $0.39, respectively, while Commercial / Industrial provides a surplus of $0.76.

A further look reveals that Scarborough incurs its highest annual deficit per resident ($470) and deficit per residential acre ($277) in the Residential land-use category. Open Space has similar, but smaller, deficits of $10 and $20, respectively.

When compared with ten towns that have also looked at their fiscal operations in terms of land-use categories, several key trends are revealed. In all cases, Residential land-use incurred the biggest deficit while Commercial / Industrial land-uses were profitable. The studies all also showed that Open Space was profitable as it required far less in services than the revenue it generated.

Open Space, when regarded as a separate land-use category, derives many economic benefits. Towns rarely categorize Open Space in its own right and therefore many of its benefits are not attributed to it in long term planning processes. Among some of these economic benefits are wetland flood control, increased valuation of properties abutting Open Space, outdoor recreation revenues, and receipts derived from Open Space-related activities such as boating, hunting, or fishing.


[1] This Cost of Community Services Study was completed using Scarborough's Fiscal Year 1994 (July 1, 1993 - June 30, 1994) records.

contents | next section

Creation Date: October 3, 1996
Jeremy Wintersteen, P.O. Box 8, Scarborough, Maine 04070