Friday, January 19, 2007

In Defense of New Hartford and The Ungrateful Guest

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."

6 comments:

Arkangel said...

Many thanks to an individual who writes with feeling but equally important with passion based on truth and integrity.

The author of this article does give opposing points-of-view, however, it reflects on points-of-law as the link provided clearly supports.

The Town of New Hartford CANNOT be held to an agreement solely because of a signature attached thereto. Courts have routinely "set aside" many, many agreements written by lawyers whose skills were more than those of the previous or current administration. What makes Mr. Garrett think that a mere signature is [legally] binding?

Given the Town's failure for compliance with the Open Meetings Law and related questionable dealings allows for an Article 78 proceeding together with a Motion & Order to Show Cause why such previously executed agreement is valid when factually; it is this writers opinion that Courts would set aside the Agreement based on unjust enrichment to one party much to the detriment of the taxpayers of New Hartford.

When does this cronyism stop? Must the New Hartford taxpayers be subservient to the will of a few elected politicians who simply cannot run Town Government? What became of due diligence, due process, etc? It does not exist within the vocabulary of our elected officials.

I wonder if Preswick Glen will be serving Lobster as did the non-profit organization (Vice: the RYE Decision dated 12/30/2006). I encourage anyone who is interested in reading this...go to GOOGLE and type in RYE Decision. It is lengthly, however, indicative of GREED that exists by individuals who feel that Town Government is for their self-serving goals and agendas.

SPEAK UP Town of New Hartford residents and be counted. Say NO to the Preswick Glen exemption and too, NO to the Town's 8 Bond Proposals which (to date) have not produced one shred of information to back-up their position. Town talk is cheap or is it just plain b/s!

Strikeslip said...

Well said, Arkangel.

To your comments I would add

"Whatever became of neighborliness?"

It seems to have been replaced by selfishness . . . at all levels. One group of seniors takes advantage of other seniors and other citizens . . . Charities use their tax-exempt status to compete with tax-paying businesses . . . Parents insist that no expense be spared in school, no matter how extravagant . . . Towns expand their tax bases at the expense of neighboring communities or other levels of government . . . Politicians keep mum to advance their own careers while their constituents get the shaft . . . Developers want everyone else to pay to pump water uphill, or for a new intersection, or for sidewalks, to make their land developable or more attractive. . . School administrators get paid more than four times the average regional income but insist on more . . .

Such people need to realize that when they take for themselves, they are taking from others.

BTW: Here is a link to the court's decision (hosted by the "Journal News") for everyone's convenience.

Arkangel said...

Strikeslip:

Upon further reading of the Osborn Decision dated 12/30/2006; an interesting [factual] point struck me. RYE's elected officials (i.e. Town Assessor) was doing her duty in fairly assessing property within the community on a fair and equitable basis. However, in contrast, I do not see neither the New Hartford Town Assessor (Paul Smith) exercising the same level of due diligence required of his appointed position. Neither do I see any of the New Hartford Town Officials rising to the occasion to exercise too, due diligence.

Yes, there has been a lot of "talk" behind closed doors and in personal phone calls between and amongst parties who have a "vested" interest based on their personal agendas and affiliation with the Town cronies. It is these meetings that must be stopped! This town needs a breath of fresh air, however, all I have experienced is hot air, unwillingness to allow residents to speak at meetings and a complete dereliction to duty by the Town Highway Superintendent on matters of Storm Water Construction corrections, Highway purchasing of vehicles, then requests funding to pay for these vehicles.

It was refreshing to see an active Town Board take legal action against the Osborne owners and in their successful pursuit of a legal remedy.

Biased Observer Dispatch Editorials/Articles and a complete failure of the O.D. to represent the interests of the Town of New Hartford residents does not help.

One town resident (member of the Town Planning Board - Jerry Donovan) rose to the occasion over a period of years and voiced his OBJECTIONS to the Preswick Glen Exemption from ALL property taxes. Perhaps, Jerry Donovan should be asked to replace Earle Reed as Town Supervisor. After all, Earle Reed wants to only meet once a month, refuses to publish the Town Board minutes almost two months after the fact and further insults the town residents by making them "FOIL" the minutes in lieu of making copies available for free - as required by law. Incidentally, Earle loves spending time in Florida. Why not simply move there - permanently!

Lastly, Saturday's Observer Dispatch, dated January 20, 2007, specifically, page 4A,(bottom - left hand corner) titled "LEGAL NOTICES" reflected a "Notice of Republican Caucus for Village of New Hartford, New York" Of interest were the names of the Committee members, specifically, Terence Martin.

If my memory serves me correctly, was it not Terence Martin who negotiated the real property deal between the Town of New Hartford and the Owner of One Oxford Road Crossing? (Remember, it is a property being SOLD to the Town of New Hartford for $1,000,000 while ONLY being ASSESSED for %563,000 coupled with the fact that the owner of this property was given a 99 year (no cost lease) to use Town property upon which the main entrance was built. What a deal!

This is the way business continues to be done in the Town of New Hartford - adversely impacting the town residents who have continued to subsidize the infrastructure to the benefit of commercial developers and their political hacks!

Strikeslip said...

If that is the case, Arkangel, then that is something that the O-D should be reporting on.

One must be concerned about "insiders" trading, whether it's publicly held corporations, not-for-profit charities, or town governments.

Arkangel said...

Strikeslip: The Observer Dispatch does not want to do what is in the publics' interest. Investigative reporting was never their forte and probably never will be...until such time that the Gannett Company changes direction and brings local news that is fit to print - not the day-to-day mundane rhetoric.

Interestingly, I noticed a list of [PUBLISHED] exempt properties within the Town of New Hartford:

(www.townofnewhartford.com/assessment/2006allexemptforweb.pdf)

I would like to know how I could qualify for exempt status? I noticed several commercial properties that appeared to be exempt.

In reviewing the individual categories, it was interesting to note that one of the properties listed a McCann, Jr. Not sure, however, was it not Earle Reed who had his picture in the Observer Dispatch within the past 2 -3 weeks of him serving Thanksgiving Dinner at Piggy Pats? Who is Piggy Pats owned by? McCann? Do any of the listed exempt properties pass the "smell" test.

Other than religious exemptions, I wonder how much the residential taxes could be lowered by taxing many of the so-called tax exempt properties (at least) twenty-five (25) percent? God only knows. No pun intended.

Once again the infrastructure is supported by the town residents and the Town Officials turn a blind-eye when it involves both commercial and very questionable commercially exempt properties.

In the Town of New Hartford...JUSTICE HAS BEEN BLINDED for much too long! Town of New Hartford residents, take heed, put your elected town board members to the test. Whose interest are they beholden to? Yours or business?

We need the Pied Piper to lead the "rats" to the waters edge.

Please correct the exempt properties posting, if incorrect.

Strikeslip said...

I think you meant to write

http://www.townofnewhartford.com/assessment/2006allexemptforweb.pdf

Thanks for the link. This looks like interesting reading