Last week, the Marble Falls City Council approved a housing incentive program designed to spur new residential construction in the city of Marble Falls. The program calls for the waiver of all permit fees and tap fees collected by the Development Services department for the remainder of 2014. In conjunction with the much lower impact fees the City approved several months ago, the time to build a new home in Marble Falls has never been better.
Why does new residential activity in Marble Falls matter? Below is a list I compiled for City Council:
- New “rooftops” are an important economic indicator. When new residential construction is stagnant or very slow, a prospective business is forced to conduct substantial research to better understand our market, which is already inexplicable in many respects. The bottom line is that a relocating or expanding firm has to feel confident that its employees will have a place to live.
- People moving into or moving up in a city need housing options, and Marble Falls struggles in this category. There were 73 residential sales in Marble Falls in 2013. People paid an average of $235,520 for a 2,047 square foot house ($115 per sf) constructed in 1983. By comparison, people who bought in Meadowlakes paid an average of $97 per square foot for a house built in 1995.
- Revenue from property tax in the city is much less volatile than revenue that comes from sales tax. With tight budgets and ongoing needs in the community, financial stability is something that we cannot take for granted.
- People who live and work in Marble Falls are likely to spend more of their disposable income in Marble Falls. With less than 850 people in this category today, we rely on non-residents to supply the vast majority (92.5%) of our city’s sales tax revenue.
- Finally, with increases in commercial activity without comparable gains in residential construction, there is a growing burden of leadership in our community. Over the last 10 years, the four major leadership boards in Marble Falls—the City Council, the EDC, Parks and Rec, and Planning and Zoning, with up to 28 total seats at any one time—have been led by a total of 61 individuals.
Another huge driver in this conversation will be the new jobs generated by the hospital and other commercial development. Not all new employees in Marble Falls will live in Marble Falls, but we would love to achieve a higher percentage of people who live and work in the community than what we have historically seen. In order to make this happen, we will have to capitalize on existing lot inventory, develop new residential areas, vastly increase new housing starts, and attempt to mitigate the upward price pressure caused by increasing demand and stagnant supply.
While the City Council took the necessary steps to make this program official, Build Marble Falls is actually a consortium involving the Hill Country Builders Association, the City of Marble Falls, the Marble Falls EDC, local leaders in the banking industry, local suppliers, and area realtors. These stakeholders realize the value of a more robust residential market that can create benefits for the entire community.
For more information about Build Marble Falls, please view the press release.