This letter relates to the article George Pattison wrote entitled “The book on benefits.”
The situation discussed sure calls for the Tea Party to visit Woodstock. I am not aware of any business that pays employees not to take health insurance (if covered under another plan). On the current Town Board, I believe one person is a retired teacher. A retired teacher is currently getting health insurance, paid for by taxpayers. Now that individual is “double dipping” into tax monies by taking a second insurance from the Town. Does this make sense? Also, anyone who is covered by another plan should be able to opt out of the Town health insurance and not be paid for doing so! This is taxpayer money. It doesn’t grow on trees as it seems that these people think. If you are a voter and taxpayer, I strongly urge you to attend the March 9 meeting and speak out against the current thinking by the Supervisor and Board relative to health insurance coverage. Also, I’m sure at end of the experiment of logging their hours that the four members of the Town Board will have logged more than 30 hours each a week. Come on folks, you are voting for your own welfare and monitoring yourselves without any concern for the public dollars being spent. As is done in business, if someone is covered by another health insurance plan, they must either opt out of that plan and take insurance from their employer or keep the plan and not take the employer health insurance. Otherwise, they could be penalized if found to have two plans. This should be done in Woodstock.
Lake Hill and Hoboken
WHERE RURAL AND URBAN MEET
I recently received an uncorrected proof of Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power by Gary Zukav (also the author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters and The Seat of the Soul). The book’s message is that of consciousness transformation. We may all look forward to its upcoming release.
Unexpectedly I came across a passage that relates to my lifelong contemplation of relationship tensions between urban and rural citizens. Growing up in the environs of Woodstock, as did my ancestors, I often wondered about the source of such friction. My ancient Greek studies at Vassar let me know that these tensions are not recent developments in human history. Meanwhile, Mr. Zukav provides contemporary and personal insight: “When I moved to a ranch in a rural valley in northern California, I brought with me habits that I formed in the city when I was surrounded by millions of people, most of whom I did not know and would never meet. I was curt and rude and I did not consider the sensitivities of others except when I needed something from them. I assumed that I would have an unending supply of strangers to treat rudely, until I realized that I was running out of people to be insensitive to. I had only a few neighbors in the valley that was my new home and I realized that if I wanted friends there, I needed to change my behavior.”
Thank you, Mr. Zukav, for your candid confession. To neighbors like him: Can we be friends? We who are native to this area understand why rural life is so attractive — the reasons for you are the same for us, and we welcome you.
HIGH ROAD TO HELL
I am more than annoyed with the arrogance of Kevin O’Connor the high-salaried director of an organization called RUPCO. I used to be in the planning business by employment with New York as staff to the NYS Assembly whip and representing her on a community planning board in Queens County, which would be considered in size and economy larger than Ulster County. I must admit a few giggles at Mr. O’Connor and not necessarily with the organization that serves as his employer. I’ve attended the Woodstock Planning Board meetings, hearing Mr. O’Connor telling me and many others that I am going to hell if don’t agree with him.
What concerns me is that he is involving the town and members of the planning board in what I believe to be obvious fraud and worse. He has made applications on behalf of his employer using a bogus company that never existed. Now he claims that he will ‘alter” all his DEIS to conform to state and federal law. That is quite nice of him, but he has committed what I see as fraud in applications with the State and Federal governments. That is the type of thing that got John Gotti in trouble. Fortunately the real Woodstock Commons LLP is in sound hands.
He should disclose why what he claimed was “Woodstock Commons” was in actuality a profit making corporation. What is his fiduciary relationship with this phantom for profit partnership, and the names of the actual for-profit partners, and investors? Why does he conceal that fact?
I have worked with the Northern District U.S. Attorney and the F.B.I. SA in Albany. I am sure that their rapid interest in white collar crime will result in an interesting outcome.
RUPCO has done some wonderful things for Ulster County and now has been stained.
Certainly the town needs affordable housing, specifically limited to the town and Ulster County. Mr. O’Connor has been caught in a series of apparent prevarications. When you apply for federal funding, you then enable anyone living in the United States to apply for his type of “affordable housing.”
It is my understanding that Mr. O’Connor lives in Kingston. I would suggest that he try this type of scheme in Kingston and see what happens.
There are solutions available. The obvious one is to create a Town of Woodstock Affordable Housing Corporation to serve the needs of the town of Woodstock, not the needs of Mr. O’Connor and his bunch.
HAITIAN QUAKE BRINGS COMMUNITY TOGETHER
At 4:53 p.m. on January 12, 2010 the Haitian earthquake struck the Port-au-Prince area of Haiti. Port-au-Prince is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The city was built to hold about 500,000 people. Due to tragic economic policies imposed upon Haiti during the last 30 years, the uprooted peasantry fled to the Haitian capitol. By some estimates the population had grown to three million. The earthquake so far has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people and left one million homeless, mostly children. The world faces an extraordinary challenge.
The Haitian People’s Support Project (HPSP) was founded in 1990 in Woodstock, New York, as a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the people of Haiti by supporting existing grassroots-community based projects. HPSP gives support to four orphanages in the Port-au-Prince area with a combined 400 children, a pottery and artist’s cooperative, a fishing village, several small medical clinics and farming projects. HPSP also supports projects in the Dominican Republic, the eastern part of the island shared with Haiti. Seven young men and women who grew up at one of our orphanages are attending UTESA University in Santiago, DR with our help.
Since January 12, 2010, our community has shown an outpouring of love and support for Haiti. HPSP has been the vehicle and the contact point for Help 4 Haiti. An example is Ted and Deborah Orr who organized the Haiti Benefit of February 20 at the Bearsville Theater. The Orr’s brought together Woodstock’s finest musicians for a benefit and tribute to the Haitian People, and the community responded by an amazing turnout. What a divine and memorable evening it was.
The Haitian People’s Support Project wishes to thank everyone who participated to make the Haiti benefit happen and all those who came and generously gave: Ted and Deborah Orr and the musicians, DJ Empress Selektor, Shirline Clark, Lisa Love, Dr. Know, Ingrid Sertso, Karl Berger, Tom Schmidt, Peter Buettner, Happy Traum, Jack DeJohnette, David Sancious, Don Byron, Jerry Marotta, Jimmy Eppard, Charlie Kniceley, Marc Black, Bill Ylitalo, Mike Esposito, Warren Bernhardt, Eric Parker, Earl Lundy, Ross Rice, Colin Almquist, Dan Cartright, and Eric Cartright. Thanks to Imperial Quitar and Soundworks, Lucy Swenson, The Turning Mill, for the poster; Karin Falch, Print Express for poster copies and distribution; Matt Kehoe, James Orr and Jean Desjardines, stage hands; Kevin Chase, production assistant; Bob Margolis and Brian Hollander, Woodstock Times; the Bearsville Theater, Peter Cantine, owner, Robert Frazza, head engineer, Walter, stage monitor and the entire staff.
In response to the Haitian earthquake, HPSP was on the ground inside Haiti immediately using our base in the Dominican Republic to send in buses with food, water and medicine. Within two days we had a team of our university students go in to visit and assess the situation at the orphanages. Amazingly, even with two orphanages at the epicenter, not one life was lost, despite the crumbling of most of the buildings. While all was still chaotic and aid was bottled up at the Port-au-Prince airport our first bus reached our children on January 23. Another bus followed and now we are able to get money in so people can buy necessities.
On February 25 the first member of our medical team, Woodstock pediatrician Susan Cardona, arrived in Port-au-Prince. The rest of the team, including two emergency room physicians and three EMTs, are leaving for Haiti on February 26.
All our work right now has been made possible by everyone’s concern and generosity. Again thank you to all and especially those involved in the Haiti Benefit of February 20, 2010.
Pierre and Terry Leroy, Haitian People’s Support Project
OH, AD HOMINEM
On the subject of ad hominem attacks, Warren Boroson cites examples of how he defines this term. By his own example, wouldn’t it be fair to point out that his primary residence is in Hackensack, New Jersey and that is where he is registered to vote?
Although he has much vitriol for the residents of Woodstock who went to Gaza, even going so far as to tell them not to come back, since he doesn’t vote here he has no meaningful constructive input into Woodstock’s future. All he contributes is hate.
Maybe he should put his money and his heart where his mouth is.
THOSE ANTI-ISRAEL LETTER-WRITERS
How can one tell a sincere, rational critic of Israel from demented anti-Semitic letter-writers?
The anti-Semites don’t talk about a two-state solution or of any possible compromise. Like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they want the state of Israel destroyed. And the Jews now in Israel presumably dispersed all over the world. (At best.) Israel delenda est.
The anti-Semites blindly hate Israel and Jews. They ignore the fact that terrorist rockets rained on Israeli civilian communities for eight years, that Israel voluntarily left Gaza, that Israel did its best to prevent civilian casualties during its attack last year, that Israel let Iraq send scud rockets fly into Israel without retaliating (at the behest of the U.S.), that Israel desperately wants peace.
They tell monstrous lies, like using the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s treatment of Arabs. Others claim that the residents of Gaza are starving. Nonsense. Where is their source? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Gaza has plenty of foodstuffs. When reporters for the Journal or The New York Times tell the truth, the anti-Semites refuse to believe it. They believe anything they want to believe — so long as it disparages Israel and the Jews. One writer said I myself “rejoiced” when residents of Gaza were killed. How insulting. He also claimed that Israel “massacred” 1800 innocent people. Actually, most of them were terrorists — hiding among civilians.
Another letter-writer said that there’d be peace if Israel stopped the settlements. Sure, Hamas is then going to decide not to try to annihilate Israel.
A few letter-writers claimed that Einstein was opposed to the state of Israel. As I pointed out, his biographer, Walter Isaacson, quotes Einstein as saying that he’s a Zionist. Yes, they will lie and lie.
I believe that there are sane and unbiased people who criticize Israel, perhaps with justification. Even some pro-Israel Jews are against the settlements. But even they want Israel to continue to exist.
As for Fred Nagel, who insultingly accuses me of being a potential collaborator, his letters remind me of the literary style of Arthur Flegenheimer (Dutch Schultz), the gangster, who when mortally wounded said such things as “A boy has never wept...nor dashed a thousand kim…You can play jacks, and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it….” Idiotic. Like Nagel’s letters.
It’s perhaps hopeless to try to change the poisonous views of the anti-Semites, any more than it would be to change the views of members of the Ku Klux Klan or similar groups. They have such a deep-seated need to hate Israel and Jews that they will remain that way forever. But I worry that disinterested people will listen to and believe their lies, distortions, and sick fantasies.
As for those people worrying that I would tell the anti-Semites where that Israel-bashing pseudo-Jew Tarak Kauff might be hiding, if the anti-Semites took over, worry no more. I would be the first to go. I wouldn’t be around.
In any case, the anti-Semites are not going to take over this country. Too many Americans are decent, intelligent, and fair, and they will not let Israel and the Jews be annihilated. The fact that we have a black president speaks volumes about the good sense of the American people. Well, most American people.
My point about Kauff was: A few anti-Zionist Jews seem to think they will escape any pogrom in the future if they side with the Jew-haters now. Not true.
Felix Mendelssohn was converted to Christianity at the age of seven. Yet when the Nazis came to power they forbade the playing of his music. Johann Strauss had a Jewish ancestor — so the Nazis dug up his bones and scattered them.
Anyway, for the truth — instead of anti-Semitic lies, distortions, and sick fantasies — go to www.honestreporting.com.
A GENUINE THANKS FROM THE FOOD PANTRY
When it is needed, the residents of our community know how to pull together for a common cause. This is happening now for the Good Neighbor Food Pantry. I want to acknowledge everyone who has in the past and is now contributing food and/or money to the food pantry. Several years ago, our food pantry was serving about 20-30 people per week. That number has been growing steadily. We are now serving 100-140 people weekly. We could never support the increase in clients at the food pantry without the help, support, and participation of everyone who has given to the pantry. We have received help from businesses, musicians, organizations, clubs, congregations, and individuals. Every donation from a single can of food to a check to a food drive has been needed.
Please know that what you are giving is not frivolous. Know that none of the food or money is wasted. The food that you donate during the week and over the weekend goes directly to the pantry and is distributed on Thursday morning. At this point, everything goes to the consumer pretty much as soon as it makes it to the shelves.
If you would like to send a check in support of the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, please mail it to Woodstock Reformed Church, 16 Tinker St., Woodstock, NY 12498. If you want to donate food directly, you may drop it off at 31 Tannery Brook. You are also encouraged to participate in the Oliver Kita “Soup for Chocolate” Food Raiser which will be held again at the Sunflower on Tuesday, March 23.
Thank you very much for all that you have done and for all that you continue to do.
FOR SUSAN BAIR
Susan Bair had a good and generous heart. When she herself was not well, and physically suffering, she helped to serve meals to homeless people in Kingston. For a while, she managed her church’s “Bail Fund,” money donated to give to local people arrested who couldn’t post their bail.
Susan, would, as they say “give you the shirt off her back.” And, speaking of her shirt, and her other clothes as well — what a sense of style she had! She dressed with simple elegance. When she would go to the grocery store, she would look like a tall, handsome model that just needed to pop in and pick up something after a photo shoot!
Susan’s sense of style extended to her surroundings. She could bring home found furniture, add some Library Fair offerings, and with these make a really groovy-looking room!
Susan worked in the Woodstock Library for many, many years. For a short time I worked there near her. Libraries can be a haven for people who are socially fragile and sometimes difficult to get along with. Where some of the staff lost patience with these people Susan never did. She was completely non-judgmental and embraced everyone as her equal. She was especially fond of, and uncritical of, our free-spirited, noisy little Woodstock child library users!
I believe she got along so well with children, because she herself never lost touch with her own inner child. She loved to be a bit outrageous and enjoy the effect on others. I remember when she and Lowell lived on the mountain, and Susan and I were chatting in the yard — Susan sitting on a stump. I realized that several hundred newly-hatched spiderlings were attempting to cross over Susan’s sandaled foot. “Susan!” I shouted, “lots of spiders are climbing over your foot!” She stared me down steely-eyed, didn’t move, and said, “So? I like spiders!”
Susan would swoop down the mountain in her yellow Jeep, pick me up, and show me Woodstock’s magical places; hidden ponds, waterfalls, and where the wild strawberries grew in such profusion amidst silvery lichens on sun-exposed rocks at the old Gilmore property — a person could pick jars and jars of them — enough to make jam or even pies!
Susan was so bright, and so knowledgeable regarding music, art, politics, history and religion. For many years she worked on a special project of cataloguing all the music books and holdings for the Woodstock Library.
Susan was always very strong, athletic, and a terrific swimmer. She was always seeking out exciting new places to swim around Woodstock. One of her more unique concepts was to obtain a fishing license for the Ashokan Reservoir, park, go down to a secluded cove, disrobe and jump right in! And so she did!
Susan had a wonderful wry sense of humor. If you were to tell her you were agitated, or feeling blue, before you knew it she’d have you laughing at the absurdity of the situation, and you’d be feeling very much better. What a gift she gave! I will miss her forever.
GOVERNMENTAL SHELL GAME Ever wonder why New York State ranks midway nationally in state taxes, while its counties rank among the highest? The reason is unfunded or partially funded mandates. The political philosophy of Albany is pass the bill and then pass the buck.
Congress is just as bad; Florida fouls up their election and in response congress passes the Help America Vote Act which will significantly raise local property taxes. It is geared to replace our inexpensive and highly secure voting machines with very costly and questionable ones. Thanks congress, just what we need in New York, additional property taxes.
Same thing on the county level. One of the most aggravating things about attending legislative meetings is to witness the attitude of some of our legislators toward spending state and federal money. The attitude being, grab whatever you can and spend it.
NY State continues to spend significantly more than it takes in. Sooner or later the state legislature will have to do something about it. And since most of them are in the pocket of special interest groups they will probably pass along the costs to the counties.
For Ulster County, this means taxes will have to go up or spending will have to come down. Bad news, for all involved, as this time around the average property owner is as cash poor as the government (look at the number of properties that are in tax delinquency).
It is obvious to anyone that doesn’t work for the county that these financial times calls for government to start shutting down the departments, programs, and services that are either too costly or ineffective.
Last year Hein was able to consolidate some departments and eliminate others which held down our property taxes for this year. Two weeks ago he froze spending as revenues continue to fall. Needless to say the budgetary forecast for next year looks grim.
Hopefully legislative help is on the way. Its been a long time, decades perhaps, since the Ulster County Legislature significantly reduced spending. Perhaps this year will be different as Chairman Wadnola and a number of first and second term legislators seem determined to hold the line on taxes.
As a discontented taxpayer, I wish them well.
Thomas P. Kadgen
THE SUPREME COURT RULES
Justice failed in Woodstock yet prevailed in Gardiner. Judge Henry Zwack of the Supreme Court ruled against a JNS cell tower to be erected in the Town of Gardiner (Index No.09-1685; dated Oct. 2, 2009). Fortunately, the petitioners in Gardiner had an experienced Supreme Court judge and an unbiased ZBA and Planning Board.
In a strongly worded opinion, New York Supreme Court Justice Zwack found “Gardiner’s review of the tower’s environmental impact deficient and rejected the town’s attempt to exempt the project from the local zoning law.” The Court found it “striking how many provisions in the Town’s own Zoning Law were violated without sufficient or any explanation.”
It’s unfortunate for Woodstock that Gardiner’s legal precedent was not available during the California Quarry discussions. There are numerous similarities comparing Woodstock and Gardiner’s legal arguments. Both town boards submitted flawed visual impact tests; both had written false and deficient SEQRAs; both only considered one site; both only considered municipal properties; both did not take a “hard look” in their determinations (in fact Jeremy Wilber admits in his SEQRA that he relied on his “imagination”); both towns had financial penalties if the tower was not constructed; both did not consider competitive bids; both town boards made binding commitments to JNS too early; both town boards attempted to exempt themselves from local laws with the same audacious and arrogant self-entitlement. (Woodstock’s scheme for exemption used its block voting tactics to change the zoning laws that specifically accommodated a cell tower in a previously “environmentally sensitive” district).
It’s noteworthy that Gardiner’s ZBA disapproved its town board’s unlawful tower height, whereas Woodstock’s ZBA approved its town board’s tower height that illegally intrudes into its scenic overlay. Woodstock’s ZBA did not enforce zoning laws 260-64 H-1-a and 260-8 B. Instead they declared that the town board be permitted to circumvent these laws.
Furthermore, unlike Gardiner, several members of Woodstock’s Planning Board (including Jeff Moran and Terrie Rosenblum at the time) also blindly sanctioned deceptive practices by conducting visual impact tests with a screen of leaves blocking unfavorable views of the tower and by accepting a false and misleading SEQRA.
Gardiner’s courageous ZBA and Planning Board rightfully aided the court’s decision by condemning their town board’s illegal efforts. In contrast, Woodstock’s politics played a much more significant role. Not only didn’t these vital Woodstock boards condemn false and misleading information, they passionately defended it, ignoring voices of dissent. Woodstock’s lack of oversight, checks and balances made the difference between justice and injustice. As a result, Gardiner has an opportunity now to do it right within the law. Woodstock, on the other hand, is stuck with inadequate cell coverage and a pathetic business deal.
We wanted to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the many people who came together immediately after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti to make our February 27 benefit at the Dutch Reformed Church on the Village Green a rousing success. Even though there was the tail end of a Nor’easter to contend with, with the generous help of many local businesses and people, we were able to raise $1000. Most of the funds will go to The Haitian People’s Support Project, toward care of its 400 orphans. The remainder of the funds will be given to Partners in Health, a medical relief organization which has been working in Haiti for decades.
Huge thanks go out to the following people: Reverand Bode and the congregation of the Woodstock Reform Church for hosting the benefit; Terry and Pierre Leroy for their amazing on-going work in Haiti; Vivian Beatrice; Michelle Flanders; Melinda and Bill McKnight; Dona and Stephen Crawford; Eeo Stubblefield and Charles Lyonhart; Jackie Stancarone; Chris Buono; Nadine Hendlin; Jennifer Ananda; Beth and Danny Hendlin; John Stobaeus; Dakota Lane; Genevieve Salerno; Michael Cooter. And thanks to the following businesses: Sweet Sues; Bread Alone; Wok and Roll Café; Catskill Mountain Pizza Company; Nightshade Fine Gardening; Artpages.us.
And thanks to the following musicians, poets and entertainers: Anique Taylor; PRANA w/ Baird Hersey, Amy Fradon, Julie Parisi-Kirby, Pete Buettner, Joe Veilette, Kirsti Golsen, Amy Goldman, Bruce Milner, Julian Lines, and Steve Rust; Karen Whitman and Rick Pantell; Sylvia Bullett; Elly Wininger and Dave Kearney; E.C.Lorick; Julie Parisi Kirby and T.G.Vanini; Mighty Xee and T.G.Vanini; Rennie Cantine; Bar Scott; Michael Veitch; Charles Lyonhart and the Junkyard Angels with Brian Hollander and George Quinn.
When planning began for this event, I told my son, living out west, about how many benefits Woodstock was having...at the Rhinecliff Hotel, the Woodstock Library, the Bearsville Theater, the Woodstock Photography Center, the Kleinert, New World Home Cooking...there are many more. I asked him if the same thing was happening out where he lives in New Mexico, and he said “not that he noticed.” Woodstock you are a special place with a heart as big as the moon! Thanks again to all of you for coming together to lend a hand to Haiti!
Mighty Xee and Michelle Flanders, event coordinators
Chichester and Woodstock
PERMIT USE PARKING ONLY? Here’s a little nugget for everyone. This quote is from the ZBA Agenda for February 25 on the Town’s web-site. Councilwoman Magarelli was to ask the ZBA for a determination on the Upper Comeau Parking Lot proposal for it to be a “…permit use only parking lot, restricted to soccer program parking…” This was put off until March 11 because contiguous neighbors hadn’t been notified about lighting changes. Interesting. All these years I thought that Comeau was a multi-use place.
RUPCO NOISE LEVELS In the Woodstock Zoning Law, Section 5A-1 Noise, there is a table of the allowable sound level limits. In the case of the RUPCO proposed housing project which is in a residential district, it says that between the hours of 7 a.m.-7 p.m. the maximum level must be no more than 57 decibels.
In the DEIS, page 188, there is a table of the Noise Levels of Major Construction Equipment from the NYSDEC. It shows the decibel levels at 50 feet, 400 feet and 800 feet for trucks, cement mixers, bulldozers, chainsaws, backhoes, compressors, dump trucks, jackhammers, and generators. At 50 feet, of the nine pieces of equipment, only one is less than our Town’s maximum allowable limit. At 400 feet, there are five pieces of equipment less than the allowable limit. At 800 feet, there are six pieces of equipment less than the allowable limit.
Obviously, the Elwyn and Playhouse residents will experience different noise levels at different times but they are quite close to the action, many within 50-200 feet. Trucks will be traveling up and down Playhouse Lane very close to residents (less than 50 feet) then moving around the site where the Elwyn residents will hear them (around 100-150 feet). The noise level for trucks at 50 feet is 91 decibels, at 400 feet it’s 73 decibels and for 800 feet it’s 67 decibels. Remember the maximum allowed is 57 decibels.
Then, RUPCO is going to clear cut almost 12 acres of trees starting directly across the road from one of the houses on Playhouse Lane. Close enough? The decibel level for chainsaws at 50 feet is 75-81 decibels and at 400 feet is 57-65 decibels, still over the limit. Generators for power will be on much of the time and at 50 feet they are 78 decibels, at 400 feet, 60 decibels. Backhoes at 50 feet are 83-86 decibels, at 400 feet it’s 65-68 decibels.
Geothermal well drilling ranges from 80-115 decibels at the site boundary (which by the way was never included in the estimates). If the 80 decibels represents 50 feet, then at 400 feet it calculates to 62 decibels.
According to the DEC, a 5-10 decibel level increase is categorized as “intrusive,” 10-15 is “very noticeable,” 15-20 is “objectionable” and over 20 is “very objectionable to intolerable.” A piece of equipment generating 90 decibels continuously for 8 hours can cause hearing damage.
Get the picture? Now compound that by multiple pieces of equipment making noise at the same time.
RUPCO did ask the Woodstock Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) for an interpretation of the law and if they needed to get a variance. The ZEO’s response was, “It is the opinion of the Zoning Enforcement Officer that a variance form (sic) Section 5A-1 is not required if the work hours on the site are from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday thru Saturday, with no construction on Sunday.”
How can that be? Did he not see the table in the DEIS? Just what did he base his opinion on?
The Planning Board should most definitely revisit this one.
For more information, please visit woodstocksage.com
RUPCO has derived its estimated tax levy on the proposed Woodstock Commons project using the method authorized in New York State Real Property Tax Law Section 581-a (which is the tax law enabling affordable housing owners, since 2006, to use the net income of an affordable housing development to determine the basis of property tax payments.) We should take a look at how this “net operating income” is derived, and project whether or not we think RUPCO’s estimates are realistic.
Multiplied out, the first year, the average unit will rent for $512 (based on RUPCO’s figures,) so the gross income of 52 rented units will be $320,000.
Using RUPCO’s 10% capitalization rate, RUPCO has multiplied the capitalized value of the project by the tax rate, to arrive at the estimated tax payment:
assessed value × tax rate = tax payment
which is the same as:
tax payment / tax rate = assessed value
We know RUPCO’s estimated tax payment is $18,853. We know that the tax rate they use in the DEIS is 2.06%. Therefore, the assumed assessed value will be $915,194. And, using RUPCO’s 10% capitalization rate, the way I understand the method is that net income must be ten percent of gross income, or $91,519. If gross income is $320,000 and net income is $91,519, that means operating expenses will be $228,481.
I have found no calculations of operating expenses in RUPCO’s application and as you can see, that figure is key to the tax payment estimate. Without documentation supporting this estimate, I think RUPCO’s figure is low. $228,481 must cover the caretaker’s salary and benefits and the grounds crews’ salaries and benefits, the entire water bill which will be borne entirely by RUPCO, maintaining the nature trails, clearing the private road, fixing whatever breaks, and paying for the electricity to light the whole place every night, to run and heat the community building and elevator and all other communal spaces and the auxiliary power to make up for the geothermal shortfalls.
In my opinion, it is very likely that RUPCO’s Woodstock Commons will experience operating costs exceeding their revenues from rent, and if RUPCO has any documentation to show me otherwise, it is pretty well hidden from their application materials. Because of the method used to calculate property taxes, the value of the project could be assessed at or close to zero. Therefore, it is entirely possible and in my opinion likely that RUPCO will end up paying the same or possibly even lower taxes on the property than are being levied now from this vacant land. Investors, primarily institutional investors, according to RUPCO, will still make money, since the project will still get its full tax credits, and the town’s taxpayers will pay the whole ticket. And I think that’s obscene.
RUPCO: JUST THE FACTS
On February 23 at 8 p.m., Woodstock resident Robin Segal held a public forum called “RUPCO: Just the Facts, Please” in the Community Center in the midst of a substantial snowstorm. The presentation was based on documented facts that you need and deserve to know.
For those people who could not attend, please know that the entire presentation can be viewed on Local Channel 23 daily at 3 p.m.-4:15 p.m. and on the carrousel at 4 a.m.-5:15 a.m. (for those who have Tivo). It also is shown at all times on YouTube.com. Just search RUPCO or go to Robin’s incredible blog to access the videos. The entire blog can be reached at TheTroubleWithRupco.blogspot.com.
Be sure to watch the amazing surprise ending.
PURIM AND IRISH
I laughed so much in the shower Sunday morning as I recalled the hilarious and delightfully tasteless Purim performance the night before at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation. A musical comedy is one thing — but take it to a holy place of worship and community where the Rabbi, the unstoppable Jonathan Kligler, is the lead singer and it transforms into something truly funny. Bennett Neiman, the esteemed scribe of the comedy performed as a stand-in with a demented madcap passion. And the dancing Jill Schwartz was a delight to see.
Jonathan sang the lead song to the sound of, “I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” — I will spare you the detail, except to say Bennett’s version is what had me laughing so hard in the shower. You see, this was the first time I attended an event at a synagogue. While two of my teenage friends in Ireland were Jewish, which place of worship we went to was a non-issue. And in my teens I kissed the Catholic Church goodbye — relieved not to be showered by the spittle and fury of the priest thundering from his Sunday pulpit.
What I loved about Purim at the WJC is that the community could have such fun, fun beyond the pale of Irish imagination; no priest or bishop that I know of would sing about a bad case of diarrhea. There is a saying “Don’t trust a spiritual teacher who does not dance,” (author unknown by me). I would add “...dance and sing.” Based on Saturday night I believe the congregation has a wise teacher in its Rabbi. He passes the test of a trustable teacher with flying colors.
And I was moved to see how humor was used to reference black times in Jewish life, and do so in a way that I felt was really an honoring of Jewish experience and dignity. And so it was that an Irishman, together with his Jewish friend and Buddhist friend, went to Purim. Thank you WJC, it was wonderful — inspiring as a way of addressing a community’s collective pain and identity. Would that we Irish could make fun of our famines and the “...800 years of misery under British rule” as Frank McCourt so famously wrote.