It’s all in the math

The Sudbury Star - - OPINION -

The dis­cus­sion about de­vel­op­ment fees goes on and on. Here is a trick that may help the readers of The Star in think­ing it through:

Imag­ine a city with one per­son who has paid for her side­walk. Now some­one new moves in next door. Should the new­comer pay for her side­walk (pay a de­vel­op­ment charge) or should the two split the costs (pay no de­vel­op­ment charge)?

Now, think about adding five peo­ple on af­ter an­other with no de­vel­op­ment charge: The orig­i­nal res­i­dent pays for 1 + 1/2 +1/3 + 1/4 + 1/5 +1/6 = 2.362025 side­walks. Per­son 2 pays for 1/2 +1/3 + 1/4 + 1/5 +1/6 = 1.362025 side­walks. The fifth new­comer pays for 1/6 of a side­walk.

It is easy to see why de­vel­op­ers and new­com­ers like hav­ing no de­vel­op­ment fees. It is easy to see why ex­ist­ing residents like hav­ing de­vel­op­ment charges. Coun­cil mem­bers should make sure they un­der­stand this arith­metic be­fore they vote.

David Robin­son, econ­o­mist Sud­bury

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