My family and I left Saugerties in 1992, at about the time that the town was turning around. The village was then gaining a new vitality due to an infusion of money from day trippers, who were attracted by the many antique shops and quality restaurants. Indeed, the village was becoming a destination and the road ahead seemed bright.
After these many years, we are returning to town, but have been flabbergasted by some of what we are learning! Since we can no longer consider ourselves “Saugertiesians,” I admit that some observations may be those of an outsider looking in. As such, if my feelings are ill-founded, I apologize for my ignorance, and look forward to contrary input.
Surely, state mandates contribute to the costs of local government. However, fiscal responsibility begins at home. My first reintroduction was related to HITS. As a major draw that occupies such a large area, I expected that it must be a key contributor to the tax base. I was shocked to be told that it is leased to an out-of-town nonprofit! Presumably, attendants do patronize local restaurants and shops, but what about the tax base? I cannot help but ask, “What is the total revenue from the lease?”
On a personal level, we have been looking at properties from one end of town to the other, being consistently shocked at the tax rates. As example, one typical raised ranch in Barclay Heights is assessed for $212,500, (real value about $195,000) 2012 taxes: $7,400! On the other end of the scale, though not in our category, is a home currently listed for $3.9 million. Set on 50 acres, the 2010 taxes were $12,056. In 2011; they were reduced to $8,622. To my mind, a sale price difference of $3.7M, vs. a tax differential of $1,200 seems, shall we say, unusual?
If the intent behind these goings on, is to replace locals with metropolitan transplants, this might prove an effective strategy; seemingly though, at an unfair cost to those whose families have built Saugerties for generations. Even some of the shops that led the charge have vanished, due in part I suspect to high operating costs. In short, I ask, “Are these signs of the future?” and, “Is Saugerties truly a value, or should our yearning to return home be outweighed by seemingly outrageous overhead?”
I happily anticipate learning the ins and outs of the Business & Development plan in town. One would expect that these include attracting businesses that will help supplement the tax base and optimize government overhead. Clearly, keys to any successful business, public or private sector, are planning, execution, cost-control and customer service. As customers of our government, I can only believe that as taxpayers we must be involved or stay involved. Without that participation, are we not destined to accept whatever we are handed?