Forgive me, those who are non-fans of Citizen Kane, but in the pondering of the attempt of the Business Alliance of Kingston to establish a business improvement district, I am reminded of this one part of the faux-newsreel which makes up the first part of Orson Welles’ classic:
“Mr. Kane, how did you find business conditions in Europe?” asks a reporter.
“How did I find business conditions in Europe? With great difficulty,” replies Charles.
He might have said the same thing about Kingston these days. Given the pressure many businesspeople feel, both from the enduring recession and high tax burden, is a business improvement district, which would add even more to the tax burden, the right idea?
Maybe — there are some benefits to pooling some resources for the promotion of the Broadway corridor and surrounding areas. Beefing up security in an area which carries a rep (deserved or un-) as being hostile territory to most people might make shoppers feel better about going there, as would tidying up what honestly is a pretty dingy streetscape. Promotion you would need to get the word out that you’re making Broadway safer and cleaner so the money you spend on safety and cleanliness is not wasted.
Another thing I can’t help but think of is a printout of an e-mail that was posted in the window of our next-door neighbors for a while. It was written by a prospective building-buyer to a local realtor and expressed shock and disbelief that similar commercial buildings in Rhinebeck and Kingston had such disparate tax bills — the one in Rhinebeck was on the hook for $3,000 a year while the one here carried (not very comfortably, I imagine) a $13,000 annual levy, if I recall correctly. The point being that Kingston’s businesspeople are already taxed pretty damned thoroughly. Anything that would add to that would have to clear a pretty high bar of awesomeness to be justified.