Letter: Saugerties needs quality jobs, not just tourism

Bill Schirmer

Bill Schirmer, Conservative and Republican candidate for Town Board

Now that the caucuses are over and the primaries are decided I would like to start focusing on the issues that will form the basis of my campaign platform. First and foremost of these issues being the need for greater emphasis on economic development.

An objective of our 2008 Saugerties Economic Development Strategy is to “create additional living wage jobs,” yet it seems we’ve made little headway in accomplishing that goal.

It seems that we have turned our attention to tourism as the prime driver of our local economy. This sector certainly forms an integral part of our overall plan, but focusing so heavily on the tourist trade, to the exclusion of other objectives, could prove unwise. Let’s face it, in an economic downturn the travel and entertainment industries are some of the first to suffer. Having all of our eggs in the tourism basket does not bode well for the town when the economy falters. Additionally, while this sector generates substantial revenue for our retail, food service and entertainment industries, it does not necessarily create a wealth of quality, living wage jobs. We simply cannot grow our tax base through tourism alone.


My economic strategy envisions a broad-based philosophy where we attempt to attract high quality manufacturing, light industrial or technology based businesses to form the core of our local commerce, while simultaneously continuing our quest to make Saugerties a desired tourist destination. Under this scenario we build a firm foundation on businesses less likely to falter in a short-term economic slump and more likely to create living wage jobs, while tourism generates an additional revenue stream, primarily through sales tax receipts, to aid our economic growth and prosperity.

I would propose a strategy that utilizes section 485-b of the Real Property Tax Law to provide short-term, decreasing exemptions to new and expanding businesses. This is not a PILOT program. It simply creates an exemption from the full taxable value of a commercial property, much like homeowners benefit from school tax reductions through the STAR program.

The beauty of this plan is that it costs very little to implement. The only up-front costs would be marketing the program. Businesses seeking to take advantage of this program would still need to go through all application, review and permitting processes in accordance with our present town ordinances. The end result would be that a business eligible for the exemption would receive a 50 percent reduction on assessed value in year one, with a 5 percent decrease in the exemption in each succeeding year until it expires. This arrangement allows a new or expanding business to free up much needed operating capital in those critical first few years of operation.

New York continues to be one of the highest taxed, most regulated states in the country. To overcome this we must find creative ways to aggressively market Saugerties as a great place to set up shop. When elected to the Town Board, I will work diligently with the Economic Development and Tourism committees to create an environment conducive to small business development, thereby broadening the tax base for the benefit of existing businesses and residential property owners alike.

Bill Schirmer

There are 5 comments

  1. gerald berke

    I’m always eager to read on a bit when someone suggests “we need jobs” and how very general and non specific it is. And pretty soon, yep, sure enough, the whole state is called into question (regulations!!) and then the whole country (high taxes!) … it smacks of ignorance, the kind that is less dufus that merely broad, sweeping, lack of specifics.
    HITS is not “tourism” nor in fact is Diamond Mill: that’s just a nice hotel and restaurant, with a very nice setting and it has been done so very very well that it has put it’s arms around the whole neighborhood and had a delightful, generous effect. By the way, it is the very nature of Saugerties that has gained us a Diamond Mill and not a Motel 6 or Holiday Inn.
    Saugerties is doing amazingly well, the community is a delight, skate park, Cantine Field, Garlic Festival, races, lovely unique and locally created shops, Artist Tour and magical book stores like Inquiring Mind, music like John St Jam, major factory revival like SPAF…. heavens… the list will surely get out of hand…
    What one might do is take a tip from Kingston and ally more closely with the schools, universities… (Saugerties already did a fabulous job with the library!)
    There is little for such a candidate to do but ignore the progress, find fault where there is none and make broad, vague promises of economic growth without even considering the consequences to the brilliant quality of life which is Saugerties.

  2. Max

    Mr Schirmer you are just what Saugerties needs. You got my vote, my wife’s vote, and all my children’s votes. By the way, my two neighbors said they too are going to vote for you. If I could only get my dog to vote, I would bring him to the polls also.

  3. Tom Ham

    Mr. Shirmer is on the right track. I agree with Mr. Berke that Saugerties is a delight for all the reasons he sites. However, residents must travel to other areas for high paying jobs in the public sector.Our children leave for college and find it difficult to make a living here afterwards.

    I think it is pragmatic for Mr. Shirmer to explore opportunities that may bring light manufacturing, high tech and other businesses to our area.

  4. Saugertiecian

    I am loving reading notes from a tactical thinker. I hope whomever wins office puts some serious tactical actions into play so we can hold onto steady growth, however with the addition of a much healthier profit, and opportunity margin for our local colleagues and “new job” seekers.

    Saugerties could be something else if we could unite and build as our forefathers did the blue stone and the brick; Hand in hand, forward moving and upward bound.

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