April 30, 2008: Typical hysteria clouds tax issues

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To The Editor:
At the April 7 meeting of the Shandaken Town Board, a resolution to create an Empire Zone met with what has unfortunately become typical hysteria.
Every new business in New York State is eligible for tax relief during the first 10 years of its development. This is not a creation of the developer, it is a fact of life. No special designation is necessary. For years 1-5, the new business pays 50 percent of the tax it is assessed. During years 6-10 taxes increase by five percent annually.
What would be the impact of being designated an Empire Zone? The state would make up the difference in tax revenue to the town and county. “Who is the state,” cry the naysayers—it is us! Yes, indeed.
But let’s look a little closer at the Empire Zone program. Currently there are 9,800 certified businesses in 82 zones. Who pays their taxes? As residents of the State of New York, we do. Refusing to consider this program doesn’t make sense. Do you refuse to claim allowable deductions on your taxes because, oh dear, it means the rest of the state will pay more?
Then there are those who complain the discussion was premature—“we’re not even through the environmental impact review process.” This project has been under review for seven years. If the developer waited longer, they would no doubt complain, “why did they wait so long?”
Then there is a long tirade in one of the local papers about the fact that 26 businesses are being investigated for failing to meet Empire Zone program standards. Wow! 26 out of 9,800, that’s two tenths of one percent! It’s not exactly a horrendous failure rate.
It’s abundantly clear that there are objectors who will never support the Belleayre Resort. However, in case it does get built, do we have to penalize ourselves by refusing to participate in a program that would increase our town and county’s revenue by millions?
Surely, we didn’t elect our councilmen with a mandate to keep their eyes closed and vote no on anything related to the Belleayre Resort. I’d like to think we’re smarter than that.

Martie Gailes,
Big Indian