It’s no secret that Anne Arundel County is a tremendous place to live. Great proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis, Federal Agencies, Washington, DC and Baltimore make our fair county extremely attractive to prospective homeowners. The State requires counties to plan for growth. As such, our lovely Broadneck, Arnold, and Severna Park area is pretty much slated to “grow” by the County, as shown by the Maryland Department of Planning’s growth map:
Source: Maryland Department of Planning
So, if you wonder why every housing development gets approved, despite the fact that neighbors object, it’s because the county wants our area to grow. The County’s map outlines the growth tiers below:
What does all of this mean? This means that pretty much, if a developer wants to build, the developer will build, barring any schools being closed to additional students. Here is a quick run down of what each growth tier means:
There are only two schools closed to new enrollment in the Broadneck and Severna Park feeder systems that would prevent additional development: Broadneck and Belvedere Elementary Schools. (http://www.aacounty.org/departments/county-council/legislation/bills-and-resolutions/FINAL%20BILL%20NO.%207-17.pdf). Additionally, with Annapolis, South River, North County and Arundel High Schools closed to new enrollment, pressure to grow elsewhere in the county will be extreme.
Adding to this pressure is, surprising, budgetary pressure. The County Budget may actually depend on development. The County’s FY18 Spending Affordability Report states the following:
If employment and wage growth are in fact flat or declining for FY2018 and FY2019, personal income growth in Anne Arundel County will be driven by population growth (i.e., more taxpayers) and non‐wage income. If true, this data is of concern to the Committee and thus supports a more conservative overall estimate of personal income growth.
How do they come to this conclusion? Well, the top employers in the county are government employers. If Federal and State employers are’t giving raises or hiring, and since Governor Hogan didn’t give State employees wages and President Trump doesn’t appear inclined to do so, this bodes poorly for Anne Arundel County. In fact, according the the committee:
Wage Growth ‐ Average weekly wages in Anne Arundel County have only increased by $26 over the past seven years, from $1,045 in 2009 to $1,071 in 2015 (in 2015 dollars). In the first quarter of 2016, average wages actually decreased very slightly to $1,068. Thus past wage growth has been less than expected.
Source: http://www.aacounty.org/departments/budget-office/forms-and-publications/SAC_FY18.pdf (emphasis added)
This is not the first time the Spending Affordability Committee has expressed concern about wages in Anne Arundel County, last year’s Spending Affordability lamented about wages falling in our county:
A third area of concern is the overall decline in average weekly salaries in our County. While County employment has increased over the past five years years from 230 thousand in 2010 to 263 thousand in 2015, the average salary, when adjusted for inflation, has fallen from about $1,147 to $1,021 per week. This means that we are replacing better paying jobs with lower paying jobs.
So, now we have budget needs potentially impacting development decisions. This short term consideration should not be a factor in the permanent decision to add a development to our area. Our area needs a Council representative willing to stand up and fight for resources to address the impacts of growth in our community and oppose unsustainable and unsupportable development.