Rye’s Golden Goose

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Can Rye’s real estate professionals do more to ease the RCSD budget burden?

Healthy real estate commissions and development margins are natural and in many ways, desirable features of Rye’s robust real estate market. In a well-planned and well-balanced community, economic incentives help keep the system rolling. But they are also kept in check, lest they cause hardships in the greater community. Real estate professionals, in adding hundreds of new bedrooms and upending the balance of school users and non-users, aren’t just just following the market, they’re driving up Rye City School District costs and creating hardships for long time residents and empty nesters.

While it’s true, development generates a nominal amount of building permit revenue ($1.4 million in 2014), and rising home values benefit all property owners, Rye’s real estate professionals benefit disproportionately. In 2014, this group made $33 million in commissions and development profit, almost 60% more than the city collected in property taxes. (Source: egovlink.com, nahb.org, zillow.com, realtor.org, City of Rye 2015 Annual Budget)

Given this windfall, and in the face of a school budget gap, is it time for real estate professionals, who have done so much to drive the increased school costs and enrollment, to give more back?

The RCSD budget gap and school overcrowding are symptoms of Rye’s outdated zoning and Master Plan. Looking forward, a master plan¬†and improved land-use regulations will not only help address budget and school overcrowding issues, but also long term economic sustainability challenges.

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