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My thoughts on the election

March 15, 2010 - John Stack

 I tried to keep on the sidelines, but this one is my area of specialty. in the village elections tomorrow, a large topic is about exempt properties. There are two types of wholly exempt properties. One is the mandatory class –Real Property Tax Law 420a -  Real property that (1) is owned by a nonprofit corporation or association organized or conducted exclusively for one or more specific purposes (religious, educational, charitable, hospital, or moral or mental improvement of men, women, or children) and (2) is used exclusively for carrying out one or more of these purposes is wholly exempt from taxation and is exempt, for certain purposes, from special ad valorem levies and special assessments. There is no local option. If a property fits one of these purposes, it cannot be taxed for real property in New York.The other class is ‘permissive’ RPTL 420b -  real property that (1) is owned by a nonprofit corporation or association organized exclusively for one or more specific purposes (bible, tract, benevolent, missionary, infirmary, public playground, scientific, literary, bar association, medical society, library, patriotic, historical, development of good sportsmanship for persons under age 18 through the conduct of supervised athletic games, or enforcement of laws relating to children or animals) and (2) is used exclusively for carrying out one or more of these purposes is wholly exempt from taxation and is exempt, for certain purposes, from special ad valorem levies and special assessments. The permissive class is a Local Option exemption. Contrary to candidate Branch, these are NOT at the discretion of the assessor. In fact they are at the discretion of …guess who? The village board! Each taxing jurisdiction can choose to exempt property in the permissive class. All the assessor does is apply the law. And the village doesn’t have an assessor, only the town does.

Everyone wants to add taxable value to the tax roll, thats understandable. How about for people who don't currently pay their fair share and are currently fully taxable? How about a local law where taxpayers would have to allow the assessor to inspect their homes, to make sure they weren't hiding anything, or they lose their ability to grieve their assessments? Do you want to be subsidizing homeowners who are hiding information from the assessor? How does the GOP slate feel about this (I'm guessing at least one of them is totally against this proposal)  

            Next, I can’t believe it would be legal for a village to deny a tax exempt property from locating in the village. The GOP candidates say there should be some discussion on what non-profits to allow, and which ones not to. What if a Catholic charity was allowed to move in, but the board decided a Jewish charity couldn’t? Who wants to be part of THAT lawsuit? If you want to meet some members of the hierarchy of the ACLU tell a Jewish/Catholic/Muslim group they can locate here and be tax exempt, but not some other? How divisive would you like this community to get?

            Worst of all is the idea that Saranac Lake is on the verge of failure..or worse! I don’t see that. I moved here just 10 years ago. I never want to leave. It’s the greatest place I have ever lived, hands down. How come we keep winning awards or making top 10 lists for best small towns in America? Not because we’re failing. Also, what makes this town great has nothing to do with the village (or town) board. It’s the people and places here. All these entities can do is hope they don’t screw up this paradise. Also by creating a divisive elective platform, it does not help us Saranac Lakers. Unlike Mr Rick Sica, I can walk down the street and get greeted with  smile and a hello, be they friends or strangers. Walk into The Rock Shop. Tell me you will walk out feeling like this place is unfriendly. Go check out Kenny and Trish at the Blue Moon, or say hi to Adam at Grizzle T’s or any of the other bartenders at out local watering holes. Heck, I even think Allie is a great asset to this community ( as well as his wife!) – I just think his solutions are not the best. I even coached a little league team with Allie’s brother Phil last year, another great guy. I even have gone to parties where people have walked up and told me they knew me, but I dodn’t know them – they knew me through this blog! Many have not been on the same wavelength as me, but we had some very good amiable conversations.

            This village is not failing.  It is thriving. All small villages and cities throughout the country are having difficulties. I’d put my money on Saranac Lake every time. I don’t think we should have a mayor and trustees who seem to be bent on divisiveness, mud slinging, and plain lack of knowledge of the process of governing. (oh, a last note – on the GOPs website, they purport there is an article about sludge removal, when it is really just an advertisement for a different form of composting- kind of biased ‘reporting’ I think!

 
 

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