Empire Merchants North announced plans Monday to consolidate its operations to the dismay of our economic development teams in both Kingston and the county. You know this is a blow to all the families whose bread-winner is employed here.
According to our City Hall personnel, they are moving to a shovel ready Industrial Park in Coxsackie where they can consolidate their two distribution centers into one. I’m guessing no amount of negotiating could have pressed them to stay since the only thing that matters to most companies is the profit margin and not the welfare of the community.
Kingston will be losing over 200 jobs because of this corporate move. The option to commute is open to most of the current employees, but who expects that all of the local staff can do that?
On one side, I know that we shouldn’t expect these bigger companies to play the role of a not-for-profit employment center, but there has to be an incentive to stay on our part. This brings me to the tax burden transfer issue.
As we all know, we have a dual tax system here in the City of Kingston. It has been long overdue for a serious course correction for the overburdened commercial properties that struggle to make a profit. As it sits now, we, the Common Council, are poised to shift a small portion of the disparity away from commercial properties as an incentive to stem the exodus of jobs from the City limits.
In the case of Empire Liquors, it wouldn’t have had any difference. They needed to consolidate their distribution efforts, but for small business in the City of Kingston, this offers a sense of acknowledgement by the administration that business is struggling locally and we are finally prepared to do something about it.
But let me warn you here and now…no amount of magic is going to make this year’s tax increase pleasant. Not for residential or commercial property owners. It’s lookin pretty ugly out there.