I am writing in response to Ken Belfer’s letter about set-aside laws. In his arguments supporting a proposed law, which will promote affordable housing, Mr. Belfer raises several points which I believe are not supported by a balanced review of the facts.
Chiefly, he argues that there’s a “net benefit to current taxpayers” due largely to the fact that the town will be receiving “additional tax revenue while much of the fixed costs…are not impacted.”
This assertion rests on the wild assumption that none of these new residents will have school-aged children requiring an education. One needn’t look further than the front page article from the same issue, “Rising enrollment could re-open French Hill.” According to the article, and supported by a recent letter from Yorktown Schools Superintendent Dr. Ron Hattar, the proposed or conceptual housing developments, currently, more than 300 units, would lead to higher costs. Recall that school taxes are by far the largest component of our property tax bills.
For whatever proportion of these developments are designated as affordable housing, theoretically up to 10 percent, those individuals will not be paying a proportional share of the additional expenses.
No, those costs will be distributed across the rest of the taxpayers, like myself, who will shoulder a greater share of the burden.
For me, I’d have to give that a hearty, “No, thanks!” Last year, I paid $24,000 in combined property taxes, which is already higher than the town average.
Are roads near my home maintained in a similarly above-average capacity? No, the access road to my neighborhood has the look and feel of a one-time horse trail on which someone, at some point, decided to hastily dump some asphalt without regard for any sort of leveling, grading, or drainage.
Does my water come out of my faucet at a proportionally above-average rate? Certainly not. Actually, it doesn’t come from the town at all as we are stuck with our own well.
Unfortunately, rather than working to get its residents such basic infrastructure as running water, our Town Board is preoccupied debating the finer points of how best to protect trees with the latest rendition of that absurd ordinance.
Beyond erroneously suggesting that these affordable units will help and not harm our collective bottom-line, Mr. Belfer makes nostalgic reference to the smaller homes built in the 1950s and to starter homes in general. He references the comparative absence of outrage over these more-modest dwellings that would have similarly made an undersized contribution to the tax rolls. The critical difference is that these homes sold at market rates, without having their costs artificially manipulated by government interference.
If there’s a market for the construction of starter homes or rental units, then such homes should be constructed and sold without the government’s intrusion. To the extent that prevailing market rates are rising and making such housing more expensive, my reply would be, “That’s great!” After all, the hope of rising property values are the very reason why any of us make the massive investment of purchasing a home and it has traditionally been a great way to build wealth over time.