Waterpark PILOT program would be bad for Vernon

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Stop talking about the waterpark; it's nothing more than a Trojan Horse. Concentrate on the financing scheme that Andy Mulvihill has proposed for this project. First, he needs the town council to authorize a long-term (30-year) PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) ordinance. This in place, he creates an urban renewal entity, and it applies for the PILOT. A PILOT gives the developer a tax abatement. In this case, he wants to pay 50 percent of what would be the actual tax on his $140M project. He wants to pay that calculated amount for 30 years. He also needs gap-financing for $28M and wants a RAB (Redevlopment Area Bond).

The PILOT amount is $3.24M/yr of which 40 percent goes to the municipality [$1.296M/yr], 5 percent goes to the schools [$162,000/yr] and 5 percent goes to the county [$162,000/yr]. The remaining 50 percent [$1.62M/yr] the town would hand over to a trustee who would apply it to the developer's RAB debt service. These numbers stay fixed for 30 years.

Mulvihill has admitted that all his Mountain Creek property is in a redevelopment area. The unfinished stores in the Appalachian Lodge, the additional 1,100 condos he has approval to build, all could have urban renewal entities created and asking for PILOTs. Great Gorge South and Legends are potential redevelopment areas which could apply for PILOTs and RABs. Also, the tax abatement goes with any condo sold. Those future residents will be paying 50 percent for 30 years.

Pretty soon, the only ones paying full taxes are us, the poor homeowners and little businessmen who invested in Vernon because we liked the area. We can't get our taxes reduced by half or have part of our taxes pay our monthly mortgage. We have to make up the shortfall in the school and county taxes. This is the top 1 percent using the 99 percent to get richer.

The mayor and the majority of the council who are going to make this happen are mesmerized by the prospect of getting $1.2M a year. Some wished they could make it for 50 years. They're like kids: awestruck, staring at a piece of fool's gold. No one talked about inflation and what that sum would be worth in the future. Did anyone ask the Board of Education or county if they'll be happy with $162,000 for the next 30 years? No one addressed additional services and congestion. We must remember, once this PILOT ordinance is on the books and one is given out, you've set a precedeny and then others come a-knocking. And finally, look at Vernon's history. What has lasted 30 years? Playboy, Vernon Valley, Americana, Legends, and Intrawest all flared then fizzled.

Carol Gunn-Kadish
Vernon

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