Editor, The Spotlight,
So, it looks like we have Governor Cuomo for another four years. Here is something I’ll bet you didn’t know about this election:
Mr. Cuomo lost the election in Bethlehem, even with the hundreds of political appointees here. As it turns out, Rob Astorino won Bethlehem by a few hundred votes.
Jim Fischer, the unknown and underfunded businessman from Ballston Spa came within a few hundred votes of beating the venerable Paul Tonko in Bethlehem. Tonko must be reassessing his popularity — or lack thereof — at this point.
Many are feeling the pinch of no jobs, little economic growth, and taxes on the upswing. People are hurting. The big issue that overshadowed the election in Bethlehem was the treatment of businesses and landowners with this reassessment project that took place earlier this year.
John Clarkson, and the Town Board approved an assessment program that dramatically and intentionally shifted the burden of taxation in town to businesses and landowners.
This policy shift has caused the following:
Owners of “green space” in town are selling their properties – notice all of the “For Sale” signs around? This is going to get worse, not better.
Trees are being cut by the thousands. Landowners cannot afford their taxes without bringing in cash. The “Conservation Easement” is a joke, and almost no one has signed up for it because it curtails landowner rights for 15 years.
Plans will be flooding into Town Hall for subdivision approval on open land. Mr. Clarkson can slow it down, but he cannot stop it.
The business community has been devastated — assessments have doubled or tripled. Many cannot pay their school tax bills. Expansion plans have been scrapped, employment will remain stagnant.
The reassessment has been a disaster for our town. We are assured that the future for business development in our town is bleak. We are also assured that single-family homes are a thing of the past. Have you noticed the apartment buildings going up in town? Yep, the American Dream has vanished for all but the affluent.
Our school taxes went up over $10,000, and now my property holdings are for sale — open land is now a burden to own, rather than a thing of beauty that I had allowed all of my neighbors to use.
I am breaking it all up and selling it. I am logging it. I have already sold two houses and attached land that I own. More will be sold in the near future. All of my rental properties will see dramatic increases in rent.
So, Clarkson beat those rich landowners. He beat those hard-working business people in town, because they were not paying “their fair share.” Who’s laughing now, John? Many are going to leave, and we are selling everything we have held in our families for a hundred years or more.
Bethlehem will suffer as a result.
Thanks, John Clarkson, Jeffrey Kuhn, Bill Reinhardt, Julie Sasso, Joann Dawson. You won.
Or did you?
Keith Wiggand, Delmar