An Innovative Approach to Cost ofCommunity Service Studies in Wisconsin

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Journal of the Community DevelopmentSociety

Publication Date



Community Development Society





First Page


Last Page



Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies attempt to explain whether or not different types of land uses generate more (or less) revenue than they consume in public services. The technique, developed by the American Farmland Trust (AFT), uses detailed information about how much revenue is generated from each particular type of land use, and then allocates all local government spending to the various land use categories. The results provide a community with a set of ratios of the net fiscal impact of various land use types at a given point in time. AFT has facilitated a series of COCS studies across the nation; in recent years, local governments and other researchers have been collecting COCS data on their own. However, conventional COCS studies have been discounted due to a number of criticisms. To address these criticisms, an innovative COCS methodology was employed for three towns in Dane County, Wisconsin. This paper summarizes the results of the study and details the methods employed, which deviate from the standard methods put forth by the American Farmland Trust in several important ways. Most notably, in this study, farm residences are separated from nonfarm residences to enable us to compare COCS ratios for different types of residences and to allow us to combine the revenue and expenditure information for both farmland and agricultural residences into a single indicator for farming operations. This provides a better picture of the total fiscal impact of farms and their residents and workers on a community than does the conventional AFT approach. The implications of this approach are discussed.

This document is currently not available here.