A Local Resident Read a RCS Community Business Association Member’s Comments into the Record during the Public Comment of the October 24, 2019, Coeymans Town Board Meeting.The Remarks were Requested by a Member of the RCS Community Business Association, who was-out-of-town.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I understand that this evening some discussion will be dedicated to economic development and comprehensive master planning. I have been asked by a resident, who is out of town, to appear to comment.
I do not believe that government’s role is to subsidize in any way whatsoever specific business development without a credible showing of how that business is going to serve or benefit some clear public interest.
In many instances, that showing is achieved through the competitive grant application process, or through other processes that are designed to assess the merit of an application, and award funding based on merit.
While it is true that local government has limited discretion within the constraints of the law to grant incentives upon good faith application and showing of merit together with a reasonably certain benefit to the public, that discretion must be used prudently and fairly. One such incentive, that comes to mind is the P.I.L.O.T. (payment in lieu of tax) tax abatement program. The Port of Coeymans and the Coeymans Industrial Park have received a number of tax abatements under the P.I.L.O.T. program, and some of the biggest business complainers have received the most under the program.
Whatever government does comes out of the public treasure, that is, from taxpayer dollars, and so, theoretically, any government concession should either immediately or over the short or medium term, directly or indirectly, benefit the general public, or at least the local public. No government participation should benefit a small special-interest sector, regardless of what it may claim to be its mission; government is not established to benefit the few at the expense of the many. The public servant serves the public, not any individual.
I understand the acting chair of the RCS Community Business Association (RCS CBA), Mr. Aaron Flach, is here to address the Board. Mr. Flach is a local business owner who can vouch for what I have to say about local government discretionary grant; Mr. Flach, during his cousin’s, Steven Flach’s (R) tenure as Coeymans Town Supervisor, received a $450,000 reduction in his property tax assessment for the Faith Plaza properties. Did he reinvest that into local economic development?
In 2015, Mr. Carver Laraway’s Carver Companies (Port of Coeymans/Coeymans Industrial Park) received a $2 million award from the New York State Economic Development Council, and the Times Union has reported on a number of occasions that he is paying a ridiculous fraction of the property taxes he should be paying, and still, more recently, he appeared before the Coeymans Town Board and complained that he wasn’t getting tax breaks, while at the same time. Greed, as is well known, knows no bounds or limits. It also has no shame.
There are many ways private enterprise can support its own development, and plenty of programs — more commonly known as corporate welfare —, to take the burden of doing business off their shoulders. If business is unaware of such opportunities, or unwilling to do the necessary homework they should be doing, or in the alternative, perhaps they should not be in business. It is not for government to use dig into the public treasury to bail out businesses or to give them more than their fair share.
Several of the grant awarding agencies include the Capital Region Industrial Development Agency, Center for Economic Growth (CEG), and of course, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (L.W.R.P.), administered by the New York State Department of State. Without a doubt, no plan is comprehensive nor is it master unless it comprises an indexed relationship with other cooperative plans. For example, the Comprehensive Master Plan should be drafted and read together with the Revitalization Plan and any Re-Zoning Plan, and these must be intimately enmeshed with any funding applications, including the L.W.R.P. To do otherwise is to waste considerable amounts of public treasure while frustrating any good faith efforts to obtain grant and available funding for local development projects.
The laborer or the minimum wage earner, or even the skilled laborer who finds employment with these businesses is not being paid because his employer is losing money on him, his employer, like Laraway, sees him as an investment, an investment from which he expects earnings, dividends. Let’s not be mistaken or blind to the fact that business, small or large, doesn’t stay in business long if it gives away what it could possibly flog for a profit.
My response to Mr. Flach, Mr. Laraway, Mr. Biers and their ilk is: Stop whining and be grateful for what you’ve been given. Stop demanding breaks the rest of us don’t get. If you want to defray the costs of doing business, operate more efficiently. If you want to reduce your tax burden, contribute more to charity and public projects that are at least in part deductible. Stop leeching off the public treasury and off the taxpayer little guy; carry your fair share of the load.
My response to the Coeymans-Ravena community leaders: Stop the infighting. Start the dialogue. Stop the finger-pointing. Start the planning.
Plus the Featured Resident Comment:
The Coeymans Clowns, the FoC, Are True to Their Reputation: Thugs