New Hartford is having second thoughts over the Town's Tax-Exemption Agreement with Prestwick Glen, Inc. and Presbyterian Homes Foundation, Inc. , now that a court has ruled that a similar retirement community in Westchester County does not qualify for a tax exemption because its clientele are "wealthy and healthy senior citizens." As they say, "Hindsight is 20/20."
In defense of New Hartford, the decision to enter into the Municipal Services Agreement with Prestwick, et al., had a certain rationality. Whether or not the proposed retirement community actually qualified for a tax exemption was unknown. New Hartford was placed in the position of either taking a chance that the project would qualify for a total exemption (and get nothing), or enter an agreement that would allow it to at least guarantee some income to offset the cost of town services; it opted for the latter.
Nevertheless, just because the Town's decision may have been reasonable, it does not make the situation acceptable. While the public focuses concern and frustration on the Town Board, there is the other party to the transaction that must be held accountable: Presbyterian Homes.
Just because something may be legal doesn't make it "right." The "system" or "government" cannot anticipate all possible situations people will dream up, so there will always be "loopholes" and "gray areas." And it is such a "loophole" that Presbyterian Homes appears to have pursued as an added benefit that it will pass on to its well-heeled clientele at Prestwick Glen: freedom from property taxes.
New Hartford has been a gracious host to Presbyterian Homes for many years, but the "thanks" it got in return was Presbyterian Homes' pushing the envelope of its existing tax-exempt status ...
Hardly what one expects from a good corporate citizen, much less a "charitable organization."