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Councilman: nonprofits are a burden in town

WARRENSBURG - Statements this week from town board member Dean Ackley that nonprofit organizations are a burden on local taxes and town government services have prompted ardent responses from people defending the benefits such entities have to the community.

At the Dec. 10 Warrensburg Town Board meeting, Councilman Dean Ackley complained that nonprofit tax exempt status is detrimental to the town and that the services non-profits offer are often unnecessary.

"I don't want you here," Ackley said. "The nonprofits do nothing for the community and contribute nothing in taxes."

Ackley's comments prompted a response from Warrensburg Historical Society spokesman Steve Parisi.

"I understand why you are saying these things, but to use such a broad paint-brush is unfair and inaccurate," Parisi said. "Many of these organizations provide necessary services that would be otherwise unavailable to Warrensburg residents."

Parisi then asked Ackley to modify or rescind his comments.

"I won't," Ackley responded.

Ackley and others have complained that non-profit groups have bought up valuable property which have historically produced revenue and brought tourists to town.

One example cited by officials is the Torah Institute, which bought the former Sit 'N Bull Ranch on Route 418 several years ago for $1.2 million. The ranch resort once was a major source of tax revenue for the town, as well as bringing in hundreds of tourists that boosted the local economy.

Now, the resort stands empty nearly year-round, and it's tax exempt.

Friday, Ackley stood behind his statements, saying that he believes that the services provided by nonprofits are limited, unnecessary and redundant.

"I am concerned with attracting businesses which bring jobs and pay taxes," Ackley said. "These non-profit groups keep buying property on Main Street and are a burden to the town."

Ackley's comments have prompted responses from non-profit organizations with operations in Warrensburg.

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