I love having two colleges in town but I am not sure if we will be able to afford it much longer. Let me recap what I know about the colleges.
Over the past 10 years I have been in Potsdam, the colleges are building more tax-exempt housing. These students used to live in taxable rentals in the village.
Clarkson has eight places for students to eat. (one of them is a Subway). Potsdam State has 11. When I was in college, we had one dining hall and went to the local town restaurants and stores for additional food. Students are eating at tax-exempt restaurants instead of coming into the village to eat at taxable ones.
Clarkson has two pubs on campus. We have taxable pubs in the village. When they do come to town to visit the bars, some of the students leave a path of destruction all the way back to campus. If you take a look on Pierrepoint Avenue, you will notice the latest tree to be destroyed and another with a branch removed. Who will have to pay for another tree? Village taxpayers.
I have spoken with the cashiers at the 24-hour gas station in town and they describe the after-bar crowd to be more like a circus. Drunk students, breaking items in the store, vomiting, stealing and doing things in the store bathroom that I can not mention here. This was just the account from one night. I am aware that the actions of a few are not the actions of all, but that few cost money to clean up after.
It has been stated that 50 percent of the village police calls are college-related. I would think the fire and rescue have similar percentage of calls. Does the colleges pay half of the annual costs for these services? Clarkson holds a number of events at Cheel Arena that are not college-related -- flea markets, craft fairs, and concerts to name a few. This past weekend, there was a concert at Cheel and three village police officers were there. I wonder who paid for that?
I do enjoy all the cultural events that the colleges have to offer. I am just wondering at what point should a not-for-profit be asked to share in the expense it costs the local municipality.
There was a lawsuit filed against Syracuse University by the City of Syracuse. Over the events that were held at the Carrier Dome that were not college-related. Syracuse University agreed to pay $100,000 a year to the city, a PILOT payment (payment in lieu of taxes)
If you look at the other private college down the road, you will see they pay taxes on some of their properties. I think our elected official need to pursue a PILOT. If they do not, the only thing that can happen is our taxes will increase.
Scott Langlois, Potsdam