On the backs of you and me

in

To The Editor:
Editor Sanford’s editorial, “Governor, make resort call,” held both inaccuracies and lapses of common sense. The idea that the Belleayre Resort, as proposed, carries “no environmental or social costs” is plainly untrue; consideration of those costs has held up approval for the resort for almost 15 years, while the notion that the resort would be a boon “regardless of whether or not it is ultimately successful” defies rational judgment. Equally profound is the lack of understanding about the wider economic repercussions of what is, after all, a real estate speculation.
The editorial’s admiring statement about the investors who stand ready to pour their “private funds” into our local economy fails to note that this stream of cash results in a direct hit on every local taxpayer’s wallet. The investors have demanded tax incentives and subsidies in return for their in­vestments—public money smoothing the way for the investors to make more private funds. This is standard practice—you risk your money and you want a break. But who pays for the break? Guess.
Have you seen the state-sponsored TV ad campaign begging businesses to come to New York. “You won’t pay taxes for 10 years!” the commercial shouts. No, the businesses won’t, but somebody will. Somebody will pay to maintain the infrastructure the businesses rely on, to operate the schools, to maintain social services. The somebody paying those taxes that the businesses are freed from paying is us.
The same for the resort. The investors are getting a huge break in return for the money they may invest. And should they receive permits for construction—by no means a sure thing, given the very steep environmental and social costs—then flip those permits to Hilton or St. Regis and pocket the profit, it will be on the backs of you and me.
Which, among other things, suggests that whether or not this particular proposal has a chance of succeeding as a business model is a pretty important issue. After all, we’re all paying for it.

Susanna Margolis, Fleischmanns