Long Range Planning Division Assistant Director Dave Defanti described forecasting as a combination of science and art. Science discovers and presents the facts. Art helps interpret and apply them effectively.
The county uses projections to forecast overall growth on a 20-year model. That, in turn, generates projections for Capital Improvement Projects such as roads, bridges and other related infrastructure on a 10-year basis with annual “minor updates” and a “major” five-year update. Updates on the Traffic Impact Mitigation program follow a similar process, all relying on a 10-year Residential Housing Permit Forecast, also updated annually with a major update every five years. In effect, the “Permit” update drives the CIP, which drives the rates and terms of the TIM fees, which pay for the road improvements.
Long Range Planning Engineer Claudia Wade explained the consequences of “forecasting too high or too low” to the county’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Overestimating on the number of building permits that will be issued into the future can lead to:
Lack of revenue to complete programmed projects; while adding new CIP projects may result in inability to repay current obligations.
Underestimating future permits or forecasting too low may result in:
Development projects are conditioned (required) to build the improvements up front, which could cause bottom-line problems for the development projects; and the county loses the opportunity of including roadway projects which may be needed.
As shown in a slide presentation to the board, Wade described the several components of the forecasting process:
• General Plan requires a 10 Year Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
• Revenue from the Traffic Impact Mitigation (TIM) Fee Program is a major source of funding for the CIP
• Residential building permits provide the majority of funding for the TIM Fee Program
• The permit forecast estimates the # of permits the County will receive in the next 10 years
• The permit forecast initiates the annual updating cycle for the CIP and TIM Fee Programs.
Updates on all these forecasts will continue throughout 2014 and will be reported to the board for action as each is completed.