Since the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission released its recommendations in late 2005, most informed Marylanders have been told that the roughly 60,000 jobs that are being relocated here will be a boon to the economy, but an enormous challenge to utility, transportation and education infrastructure, and a shot in the arm to the flagging real estate market.
Will it? A recent poll of affected workers at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey indicated that only about 40% were planning to move when their jobs moved. Because of that, the SUN ran a story last week that said the DoD was hiring Maryland workers for new job openings, so that they wouldn’t lose 60% of their workforce all at once when the move takes place. So, although the economic impact will seem to be guaranteed, with Maryland workers getting 60% of these jobs and up to 24,000 new households, the initial indicators are that the majority of the jobs will be taken by people who already live here.
So, is the state of Maryland planning for a big party that will be relatively small? If there really are only 24,000 new households relocating to the state, spread over localities from Anne Arundel, Howard, Harford and Cecil Counties to the City of Baltimore, should the state plan for twice that number?
The decision over these improvements will be made in a very tight budget environment, and the decision must be made fairly quickly in order for the work to be funded and put on the roughly 10 year plan the state maintains. Roads and schools take a while to plan, engineer and construct. The O’Malley Administration needs to look carefully at what needs to be done and avoid over expenditure. And localities and the real estate industry — builders and brokers — need to temper their expectations. The golden egg might just turn out to be a lump of coal.