A fiscal impact analysis prepared in July, 2002 for the town of Barnstable, Massachusetts concludes that big box retail is a financial loser for the town. In fact, a 150,000 s.f. big box store would cost $70,200 per year more than it would bring in for revenue. The new study, conducted by Tischler & Associates, was a “prototype analysis” that examined revenues and costs for four residential types of land use, and eight non-residential uses: business park, office, shopping center, big box retail, specialty retail, hotel, restaurant, and fast food restaurant. The net fiscal impact of each land use was calculated for the town, to help local residents understand the potential financial cost of each type of use on the community. According to Tischler, a specialty retail store had the most beneficial impact, with $326 surplus per 1,000 s.f. of store, based on income over expenses; a business park also yielded positive results, with $112 per 1,000 square feet of development; an office park showed $66 surplus per 1,000 s.f., and a hotel was $35 per 1,000 s..f in the black. However, a fast food restaurant was the big loser for the town, with a -$5,168 annual deficit per 1,000 .s.f.; a restaurant had -$1,100 impact per 1,000 s.f.; a shopping center -$314, and a big box retail -$468 annual deficit per 1,000 s.f. Because big box retail has the largest square footage, a large store creates a larger deficit than even the smaller fast food restaurant. The Tischler analysis found that a big box store would produce $554 per 1,000 s.f. in revenues for the town, but cost the town $948 in operating expenses (66% of which was for police services, and 28% for public works). Big box would also require $74 per 1,000 s.f. in capital improvements. The total operating expenses and capital improvements came to $1,022 per year, versus $554 in income, for a net loss to the town of $468 per 1,000 square foot, or $70,200 per year for a 150,000 s.f. store.
For more information on the Tischler study of land use costs in Barnstable, contact the Town of Barnstable Planning Department, 200 Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601, or [email protected]