Rotterdam IDA deal with SI Group a bad one for taxpayers
Re Feb. 5 article, “SI Group seeks $4.2M in tax breaks”: County Legislator Joseph Suhrada and the Rotterdam Republicans are proposing a $4.25 million rip-off of taxpayers of historic proportions with the Rotterdam IDA’s proposed PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with SI Group.
Rotterdam, Schenectady County and Schalmont school district taxpayers lose $616,000 in sales tax and $3.63 million in property taxes for a grand total of $4.25 million. What do taxpayers receive in return as far as permanent full-time jobs? According to the Rotterdam IDA, a grand total of seven new jobs! What kind of jobs? According to the Rotterdam IDA, one professional or management, two skilled or unskilled and four semi-skilled. Do the math — that’s $606,571 per job.
Who negotiated this bad deal for the Rotterdam IDA? The Rotterdam Republican Chairman Gerard Parisi’s law firm. He has helped to to place partner Patrick Sacoccio on the Metroplex Board, even though both partners have a financial interest in a large loan from Metroplex. Joe Suhrada is silent — content to permit a multimillion-dollar rip-off to proceed without word.
Mr. Suhrada is at best a hypocrite. If he has his way, we’d return to the bad old days of [former Schenectady Economic Development Corp. executive] George Robertson and the sweetheart deals.
The writer is president of the Woodlawn Democratic Committee.
Schools can’t control many cost increases
Re Carl Strock’s Feb. 14 column, “Surprise! Taxes rise with STAR”: He correctly highlighted some of the root causes of rising property taxes — the state’s outdated Wicks Law, the Triborough Amendment and costly employee pension programs.
He could have added a long litany of unfunded — and grossly underfunded — mandates such as state and federal testing programs, highly prescribed curriculum mandates, hugely expensive special education requirements, as well as spiraling operational costs that are beyond the control of school board members. For example, since 2000, health insurance premiums have risen 87 percent, the cost of diesel fuel has jumped 132 percent and construction costs are up 37 percent.
All of these mandatory requirements and expenses handcuff school board members and contribute to escalating taxes.
We agree that something must be done about New York’s property tax burden. But let’s face reality: Local school boards operate within a strict statutory and regulatory framework established by the state and federal governments. This is the real root cause of rising property taxes, despite what Mr. Strock implies.
Timothy G. Kremer
The writer is executive director of the state School Boards Association.
Strock column was disrespectful to religion
This is in reply to Mr. Carl Strock’s Feb. 19 column, “Priests and prayers on public fisc.” My remarks are not lightly made. In my opinion, Mr. Strock is a bigot.
By definition a bigot is a person of strong convictions or prejudice, especially in matters of religion, race or politics, who is intolerant of the views of those who feel differently.
Strock calls a person who has a calling to a certain religion a shaman (this word is used in a derogatory way in the article). By definition a shaman is a priest who practices shamanism, which, again, by definition is a religious practice of certain people of northern Asia, who believe that good and evil spirits pervade the world and can be summoned or heard through inspired people. Would you not call that a religious belief? Mr. Strock thinks not.
What salary or payment a chaplain gets has nothing to do with religion — it sounds like Mr. Strock is jealous of the worth of a chaplain — as compared to his worth.
As for a person facing mortal combat, being told that he or she is loved by someone or some spirit — be it God, Allah, Mother Earth, Buddha, Krishna or whatever — is comforting. I speak firsthand as I have lived it, as so many others have. I am 80 years old, have served in WWII and was thankful there was a chaplain there at the time. Strock is too young to really understand; he was but a twinkle in the eye of his father when we were glad to see a chaplain, no matter the religion he represented.
His article was hateful and disrespectful of all religions, and to anyone who believes in a superior, supreme or spiritual being. Perhaps with a little more bowing of heads and reflecting on the values of our forefathers, we will be a better nation, with fewer hypocrites like him.
George D. Hebert Jr.
Good Ellen Goodman column on Obama
I absolutely loved the Feb. 22 column, “Women’s lib paved the way for . . .Obama?” written by Ellen Goodman.
I have been feeling the same sentiments but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. She was right on with everything she said. Hooray for insight! Thank you for printing it. I saved it and e-mailed it to all of my friends and family. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading it.
Karen Van Detta
The Gazette wants your opinions.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.