To the Editor:
As the friend of many business owners in Potsdam, I would like to comment on a program unveiled last week that has been dubbed “Tax Free NY”.
The Governor, obviously with the help of some high ranking University Officials, has rolled out a plan proclaiming that all SUNY property and 200,000 square feet adjacent to this property will be available to new start-up companies completely exempt from all taxation for 10 years.
This vague proposition leaves a multitude of questions in its wake. Some of these include:
Which other private universities are eligible for this program? Do they need to apply or have they already been chosen? How will they divvy up the 3 million square feet they are allotted? Who do the companies apply to- the State of New York or the Campus itself? Will this create a new department within the campus that taxpayers will have to support? Who will determine if a company has “Eligibility with a relation to the academic mission of the University” as quoted by the Governor?
Who will police the business to ensure they are abiding by the rules that make them tax exempt? Will County Real Property be informed if the company is not achieving its tax exempt status and will they be evicted or go on operating as a taxable entity?
Since this is a desirable concept- will the universities have a cap on the amount they can charge for rent/lease? Will it be a flat rate for all SUNY campuses or will it fluctuate wildly? Can the private universities set their own rate?
How can you propose exempting certain people from income tax? This is unprecedented and perhaps illegal.
Will the affected communities receive some sort of State funding to provide police, fire and emergency services to these non- taxed businesses? Will the school receive extra aid?
The Governor’s office states that retail businesses will not be eligible for this program- will the proposed hotel/restaurant and conference center recently slated for development in Lehman Park be eligible? Will the Affinity Apartment complex owners be able to partner with SUNY and become exempt as well?
I’ve saved the best for last- Why is this plan being rushed through congress when NONE of these questions have been answered? The Governor stated that he wants this passed before the June 20th recess. Until these questions are answered no one should cast a single vote. Do not alienate the business people of Canton and Potsdam (and many other SUNY communities) that have supported this area for many generations without corporate welfare.
Peggy Brusso, Potsdam