Letters (6/28-7/05)

Town should be wary of sports complex proposal

I have been quite intrigued with the proposal to develop a sports complex in Saugerties. It would certainly add a great deal to the sports emphasis already developed in the community. When I first moved here, I was pleased to learn from a friend in Woodstock how much they depended upon the ice arena for their son’s very strong interest in ice hockey and how they enjoyed coming to the town. Certainly a sports complex would attract an even greater number of people to enjoy our lovely community, and it appears that it would have a beneficial effect upon the school children who would have use of the facility.

However, as I have read about the proposal, I have begun to question some of what has been written about the complex. I would like to share some concerns with you.

First, I read that the developer, Mr. Barese, indicated that the land should be leased to him by the town, tax free for 99 years, and that he was willing to pay the town $65,000 per year which equals his tax liability on his $15,000,000 complex. That seemed odd, since I pay about $3,000 on my house which has a value in the area of $280,000, so I applied last year’s tax rate of $11.101715 /$1,000 to his $15 million dollar complex and I calculate his annual town and county tax at $ 166,523. Nothing has been said about school taxes, so I decided to calculate the project’s tax liability for that. I applied the school tax rate of $17.33292 to his property value, and it amounts to $259,993. The sport complex’s total tax bill in the first year would be $426,519 based on last year’s tax rates.

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What about the other 98 years? How much would Mr. Barese’s project accrue in taxes over the entire period? Assuming annual increases of 1% in town taxes and 1 ½% in school taxes and keeping the assessed value the same–I couldn’t think of a way to predict the increase in value of the property over the years–Mr. Barese’s tax liability for 99 years would be $86,295,671 ($27,945,574 in town taxes and $58,352,077 in school taxes). If he continued to pay $65,000 per year he would knock his total bill down by $6,435,000, leaving the rest of the community to pick up 79.8 million dollars. This is outrageous; a money-making venture leaving us to pay nearly 80 million dollars for their taxes.

Second, in one of the articles there was mention of a one -million dollar road that would be built and given to the town as a payment in lieu of taxes. What is this road? It can only be a road to connect the complex with the town road network. This is a driveway (access road) which the town would have to clear in the winter and maintain through the years and then he wants it to reduce his tax liability? Where is the advantage to the community in this? Perhaps its value is as a model in which everyone in the town can give the town their driveways and private roads, get a reduction in taxes, and shift all future costs of them onto the town.

Third, Mr. Barese claims that this should be considered a private-public partnership. Well, if this is so, I have read nothing about the town appointing or electing members to whatever governing board might control the sports complex. The town’s part seems to be the shouldering of his tax liability and nothing more. One thought that comes to my mind, if this is a partnership, the town might control the parking lot, through a parking authority, and charge each user of the complex a parking fee along with special fees for special events.

Finally, due to the very large financial implications of Mr. Barese’s proposal and the very great concern that town folks have over tax issues, for instance the Dickerson’s Keep PILOT agreement, I request that the Town Board call for a town-wide referendum on this project before it ever goes to the state legislature for their approval.

Charles Lantz
Saugerties

 

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