(Regarding a local group’s opposition to a casino in Saugerties or anywhere near it): I think it’s not if New York wants to get into the gambling business, we are in the gambling business. Please wake up, we have more slot machines then Atlantic City, New Jersey, Connecticut and now Pennsylvania have. If you can’t beat them, join them. New York needs revenue, let’s stop giving it to others and let’s keep it for ourselves. Including online gambling, we can’t stop people from gambling so let’s help the economy out, or should we stop people from drinking alcohol or smoking pot. We can’t. Wake up, let’s make some money on it now.
Open letter regarding tax breaks
Dear Mr. Hein, Mrs. Bernardo, et al.:
This letter is to address the many concerns we have regarding the UCIDA’s proposal to assume responsibility for PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) for housing projects including “affordable, workforce, senior and dormitory.”
I represent a citizen action group and was among several dozen people who attended the UCIDA’s public hearing on August 1 who are opposed to such a change for reasons enumerated below:
1. Of primary importance is that if UCIDA’s proposed change is passed it would bypass town government, and town government is most local and closest to the people it represents. In effect UCIDA would provide the opportunity for a developer to bypass a town’s regulatory process and impose itself upon a town which may not want, need or be able to afford such housing projects. We are in agreement with the town of Saugerties which rejects and strongly opposes the proposed amendments to the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency’s Uniform Tax Exemption Policy. This practice would make government yet one more step further from its citizens.
2. There is no valid reason that the UCIDA needs to grant housing PILOTS in order to fulfill its mission of industrial development. There is no need for this type of housing on behalf of the local residents and past housing projects have attracted out-of-town developers and non-residents to Ulster County which Ulster County residents have had to support. One example is the “affordable” housing project in Woodstock that residents believed would be for local struggling artists only to find that now it is being filled through the use of a lottery system which includes all residents of New York State. New York State has long been known as the welfare state and Ulster County is preferred for many reasons as an easier place to obtain benefits. These types of housing projects result in increased strain on the local property-tax-paying citizens who bear the burden, thus making it increasingly difficult for residents to continue to live independently. Anyone traveling through the hamlets, villages or towns of Ulster County will readily identify that there is an overabundance of vacant housing and most landlords report having a current vacancy rate of over 50 percent.
3. At the August 1 public hearing, the UCIDA chairman stated that one advantage of having the UCIDA would be enforcing that the developer/ owner pay their taxes. We don’t need the UCIDA to do that because there is already one in existence. It’s in existence for every property owner and it’s called the property tax auction. Why not use the law that’s in place and apply it to all in a fair manner?
4. The UCIDA’s proposal contains a specific ridiculously low dollar amount for a 25 year period which the owner would pay in taxes with “affordable housing” being the least amount and dormitory housing being the highest. So although the UCIDA claims that there would be uniformity in PILOTs it is common knowledge that college towns such as New Paltz and Stone Ridge (Marbletown) would be the dormitory locations, while towns such as Saugerties would be allocated the “affordable.” Furthermore, it is unreasonable to set a dollar rate when no taxpayer is given such an advantage especially as most are bracing for hyper-inflation. Even under the NY State Tax Law 581A tax payments are reassessed periodically.
5. In taking the PILOT decision making process away from the towns, those making the decisions are accountable to no one. The UCIDA staff is voluntary and not elected. While they may have to answer to the County Executive or County Legislature, the citizen’s voice is further removed and barely audible. One such example is SACRED (Saugerties Assertive Citizens for Responsible Economic Development) which has requested more than once to meet with the county executive; but that request was denied.
6. Conglomerate housing, for which the UCIDA is proposing to grant PILOTs, while consistent with plans for United Nations Agenda 21 and ICLEI, is not environmentally friendly, nor mentally, physically or spiritually healthy. Its mission is to eliminate single-family homes and have all humans living in conglomerate housing. These housing projects demolish many acres of land, and cause strain on existing water and sewage systems while causing current housing structures to be abandoned due to financial strain on a single-family homeowner. It alienates people from a free-flowing daily communion with nature; it is contrary to self-sufficiency and independence and promotes dependency and alienation from the land and the means to sustain oneself.
7. Conglomerate housing, (called euphemistically workforce, affordable, dormitory or senior) is contrary to integration. It creates a ghetto and structures by which its residents are categorically classified and identified. While it may make it easier for residents to be located by agents of control, it deprives humans of individuality. Children residing in such structures are readily identified by the required characteristics to reside there. Residents, by definition of their housing, are labeled as poor, working poor, old, sick, etc. and prevented from true integration into the existing community. It deprives residents of their individual rights and they must meet routine inspections and their behavior must be acceptable to the rules of the conglomerate housing authority. For example, residents may not be allowed to play musical instruments such as saxophones or electric guitars.
Formerly known as housing projects, which were by all definitions failures and came to be identified with poverty and an inability to move forward, these old ideas come to us camouflaged with new labels.
The UCIDA has no need to grant PILOTs for housing. The proposal is destructive and it is poorly designed. The UCIDA should not be given the ability to usurp power from the towns or to grant PILOTS for any type of human habitation but should keep its focus on promoting industry rather than control of human beings.
Gaetana Ciarlante, LCSWR