Saturday, July 05, 2008

GREEN YOUR WAY BACK to where you came from!

Common Fire Foundation is looking in the wrong neighborhood. Let me add to that, they’re looking in the wrong county.

If this “Group Home” style of Not-for-Profit housing works in Tivoli, buy another home in Tivoli. Have you compared the taxes in Tivoli to Kingston? Its like Woodstock and New Paltz. They need all the commune living they can get to provide affordable housing over there.

If you’re looking for towns to drain Property Taxes from, look somewhere else. Kingston has provided enough. This community has already demonstrated the financial fortitude of helping the most needy, but enough is enough.

Stuyvesant Street is not a co-op street. This historic district has had attacks in the past, successfully beat them back and continues to thrive, regardless of the city Reval catastrophe. Now this?
I don’t care how GREEN they want to be, Jeff Golden and company should be looking somewhere else.

Quoted in the Freeman: Golden said “This type of housing is beneficial for communities because it allows professional people who are not highly paid to keep their expenses low while performing social services, environmental work and community-based projects.” Horsefeathers!

I have an idea, The condos on Barman Ave have suffered financial setbacks. What a prime location for Common Fire to develop their green co-op living experiment.

Just keep it on the tax rolls.
All four buildings could be modified to suit their shared expenses.

Alderman Robert Senor is correct when he points out the Not-for-profit status of the organization. This GREEN theme is a nice twist to the proposal, but it isn’t working.

The Council would have to approve a zoning change for this to happen at this location.
You can Count me out.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its nice to be green when considering your carbon footprint, but it wont help the community if youre not supporting the tax base.

This house should be designated historic or atleast used in a Kingston Calendar some year.

Thanks for looking out for the taxpayers mike.

rebbytunes said...

Mike,

How can one be so certain that this is such a bad thing without proper research and getting feedback from the people who live in Ward 8? As a Ward 9er, this is the very first I've heard of Common Fire wanting to come to Kingston. I actually know someone who lives in the Tivoli location, and it is proven a terrific place to live. Particularly in these times. There are some who can't afford to buy a home - and may want to live by certain virtues (that are green) and can do so in this environment. It could be a way to house 11 people who want to live in a way that they couldn't otherwise. And these people could set very good, progressive examples on ways to live and conserve. You've got to think out of the box here and without a doubt, this is not a decision that can solely be made by an alderman.

Taxes aside, it's important to first learn whether or not a co-op like this is forbidden in a historic area. I'd like to wait to hear back from Suzanne Cahill before getting into a dialouge about it. On that note, I'd like for the city to delve into other issues of what is 'forbidden' in historic areas and have those laws enforced too. Such as removing bluestone sidewalks.

As someone who you represent in Ward 9, I'd prefer you hold out on what seems to be a reactionary response to doing more research on who they are and what they might have to offer our area before you ask them to go back to where they came from. I'm not convinced of that yet and you owe me a closer look. My tax dollars are paying you afterall and a whole host of things (parking meters, boots, unnecessary lawsuits). I don't need to get into it here how I might feel about all of that. A project like this, like TRANSART - is far more appealing to the future of the city then the former.

Come on Kingston Progressive. Be progressive.

Rebecca

Anonymous said...

It would kill someone to be profgressive and still pay full taxes?
Why do groups insist on buying property in Kingston? Has anyone thought about the impact it has on the taxpayers? My house just doubled in assessment and I'm paying 57% more in taxes than last year. I'm not happy.

Mike Madsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Madsen said...

The issue of not-for-profits and our tax base is a constant conversation at numerous meetings throughout each month amongst the Aldermen.
Meetings are announced, and when our agendas are posted, no civilians come to follow the continual dialog and the impact that not-for-profits are having on those of us on fixed incomes.
It's true, ther public pays our $5/hour, so we are at your service, but we are also responsible for the allocation of limited funds and struggle with each financial crisis that plagues the city almost monthly.
I will note your concern, and wiegh my decisions accordingly.
Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Mike, 43% of the property in the City of Kingston is off the tax rolls.
This includes Government buildings, hospitals, schools, churches, grave yeards and city parks, but it also has the Non-profs in the mix.

We just can't foot the bill for services rendered when the revenue is dwindling. Sales taxes for the county, which we count on, is below estimates at this time. If this and any pending lawsuits are an indication of things to come, we are in deep trouble.

Rebecca points out the lawsuits; it's good to remember where unseen expenses can go, and the city's contingency has been tapped for serious and silly items already. Theres no more wiggle room in the budget. Where, but the taxpayers, will the city go to suppliment revenue?

I cant be supportive of another non-prof tax free proposal in our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Alderman Madsen,

Shameful. That's what your reaction to the Common Fire proposal is. Shameful.

How can someone, especially given your "progressive" tendencies, have such a knee-jerk reaction to this idea...and for now, that's all it really is...an idea, a proposal, a concept. Do some homework, man. Get out there and see the Common Fire property in Tivoli. See the good work that organization is doing to educate people on the multitude of benefits to living a cleaner, less fossil-fuel dependent life. Understand the mission of Common Fire. Learn what they know, what they do, and what they want for the Kingston property. And if you still think it's "Horsefeathers," well at least then you've rendered an opinion based on research, and not some pathetic "we need to keep the house on the tax roll" excuse. Please...one house off the tax roll that is occupied my community-conscious folks trying to lead by example in terms of reducing our dependency on foreign oil and supporting local farmers and businesses is certainly not going to push Kingston past the breaking point. No, other acts by the esteemed Common Council, along with leadership in Washington, is doing quite well on their own on that score.

Be progressive. Listen and learn before you leap.

Paul Rakov
Ward 9

Anonymous said...

Send them packing, Mike!!!

Rebecca Martin said...

to 1:34

I understand...but it isn't the properties not on the tax role that is responsible for the outcome of the reval. But that's a whole other conversation.

Visit KingstonCitizens.org. There is good information there to help you to connect to others who are in the same position as you.

Mike, how about some research on perhaps creative ways that other communities deal with not-for-profits in balancing out some of the services that they use so it isn't coming out of the tax payers pocket? I know of several off the top of my head - and I bet there are more.

Jen said...

Before you condemn the project why not consider seeking a PILOT from this non-profit? I had a friend that lived at the co-op in Tivoli (low paid legal services attorney). There is a benefit to be gained for the city of Kingston to add this organization. Make it work - get a bit of taxes by negotiating a PILOT and bring this project to fruition. Seems like a more positive development than a new chain drugstore...

Anonymous said...

Greenies vs Meanies or is it Common Fire vs Common Sense...

Excuse me, but I think everyone should take a step back put their ego aside and think about a couple of issues rationally...

I don't think the meanies are really against the concept of green living are they? I mean if people want to jam themselves into tight quarters to save money (and mother earths resources) well I'd say God Bless!

And as far as telling commonfire to move out to the country or out of the county, I'd say that's a little mean.

To me this seems like a great concept and an admirable cause, by a group of people who should be respected for taking the lead on important conservation issues, but have become unfortunately fixated on a location not suitable for the purpose.

I would love to fully support this group and it's cause, but have some major reservations with this location and the whole tax exempt thing for reasons I consider common sense.

I'd like to see somebody's response to the following questions...

1). Most Obvious MAJOR Problem To Me... Where is the parking for 11 people... (And the family or friends that come to visit). It's my understanding that the driveway which looks like it would hold ~3 cars is not even part of the property. The house frontage will accomodate 2 cars. What about snow in the winter. It is hard enough to make a U-turn now, what will happen when they put another 5-11 cars in the mix... I can see the Greenie point that most likely people who share rooms will tend to share rides as well... However, there is no law saying how many cars you can own, so each person living there could theoretically have 2 vehicles and have friends drive over to visit as well... An I heard this was also to be used as a sort of "show piece" to encourage other people to join the cause... Where the that traffic park...

2). That street has some very nice homes with owners who care about the historic value and appearance of the houses on that street... I am sure anyone can related to the fact that they have spent lots of money to preserve the neighborhood and thier investment and are understandably concerned about any potential negative effects on the value of their investments. Is there anything that gives them assurance that this non-profit will stive for the same standards... What prevents this cause from falling victim to a downward spiral into a sloppy shelter for transients and wanderers?

3). So if the Holiday Inn changed to non-profit status they would no longer have to pay property tax? Or what if I form a non-profit for myself and my family, we are already sharing expenses in our daily living and we are also conserving as much energy as possible... So then would my property qualify to be tax exempt? I think you see my point that there is obvious potential for some slick maneuvers here and it makes me nervous that my taxes will go up so that somebody else can live cheaply... If everybody paid a fair share we'd all pay less. Imagine, a group focused on shared living where everybody pays their share asking to be exempt from paying their share? What measures are in place to stop unscrupulous operators from taking advantage of the system?

4). The residents would pay to live there right?... I understand part of that payment is for group purchased or shared expenses for food, heating fuel, cable, phone, etc.. But isn't part of that payment rent? The website says the biggest chunk of the payment is paid toward the mortgage... So what do the residents get for their part of the mortgage payment? Partial ownership of the house? If their payment doesn't get them anything, it's rent right? A non-profit doesn't have shares so the residents aren't buying shares with their payment... Rent = Group Home... I can't see it any other way can you?

5). Who owns the house? The non-profit right? So after 10 years when the house is paid off (tax free) and the non-profit sells the house where do the proceeds go? Is there anything that prevents the non-profit to pay out the tax free proceeds to the Goldens as a bonus or commission or ridiculous corporate salary? Not saying Mr. Golden or anyone involved with common fire would do any of these things, but is there anything to prevent the extra taxes that we have to pay to enable this process from going right into corporate pockets?

Wow did I really just type all that... Maybe someone should call a public meeting to discuss all these issues...

Let me just say I am sure that common fire has great intentions and are great people with a really truly admirable cause... But with the problems mentioned above maybe they just picked the wrong house for this project, and maybe need to work to establish why tax exempt applies...

E.L. - Kingston Resident and Tax Payer
e4andlel@verizon.net
cell - 914.466.5940