Sunday, January 27, 2008
Road 'Deal' in NH
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This past week more information was revealed about the new office park going up in New Hartford behind (west of) "The Orchard." What at first seemed somewhat objectionable as another example of Urban Sprawl is now starting to look like taxpayer subsidy of a private developer.
First we find out that Oneida County will give a PILOT for the project: reduced property taxes for several years, and a $700,000 sales tax exemption. This ostensibly was for the purpose of retaining existing jobs at "The Hartford" in New Hartford.
Then we find out that New York State will give Hartford Financial a $500,000 grant (our tax money) to locate in the new office park.
While NO new jobs are to be produced, the area requiring police and fire protection will be expanded, as will the demand for water and sewer services and need for storm water control -- costs that will fall on the tax and rate payers in general (many of whom live in Utica).
But it's for job retention . . . That makes it OK . . . Right?
Now we find out that in addition to the PILOT, the County, the Town of New Hartford, and the New Hartford School District will take the already reduced PILOT payments and dedicate a significant portion of them to improving the "country" (it did not say County) road to accommodate more traffic.
Clearly, the road deal is unnecessary to retain the jobs at "The Hartford." The PILOT and Grant accomplished that, and the company's new building is already well under construction.
As for the proposed hotel and medical office complex, these will likely draw upon existing demand within region. While some jobs may be created at this location, the project will likely result in job losses elsewhere in the region. The market for these services is only so big (and here, it is shrinking). But, free market competition is a pillar of our society, so that is OK. Traffic at this location, however, will increase, and that will be something the public will have to cope with. But since the Town will be the ultimate tax beneficiary, it will have the funds to take care of the traffic.
This is not a County industrial park, so why Utica taxpayers should be asked to pay for road improvements there through their county taxes is unknown. There was no County help for the Utica Business Park.
The deal with the New Hartford School District seems questionable. What does developing a road have to do with education?
Is it not New Hartford's policy to require payments from developers to mitigate the environmental impacts of their projects? Here, New Hartford should be getting payments from the developer to improve the road, not (effectively) the other way around.
Plenty of questions arise the more you think about this one. Why the unusual deal here -- and not elsewhere?