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Citizens, entrepreneurs raise concerns over proposed Lake George business district

At a Lake George Village Board meeting Monday Oct. 7, area developer and business owner John Carr talks of both the advantages and concerns associated with establishing a Business Improvement District in the village. 
Both entrepreneurs and individuals that would be included in their district raised various questions about such an entity, its budget, and what it would accomplish.

At a Lake George Village Board meeting Monday Oct. 7, area developer and business owner John Carr talks of both the advantages and concerns associated with establishing a Business Improvement District in the village. Both entrepreneurs and individuals that would be included in their district raised various questions about such an entity, its budget, and what it would accomplish. Photo by Thom Randall.

— He said that most all of the services and benefits cited in the BID proposal were already being accomplished by the village government — without an additional tax.

“I have a hard time with paying more taxes in a time the economy is tough,” he said. “It’s not just the money, it’s giving up control of the money.”

Jeff Rougeau, owner of the Sundowner Motel, expressed a similar viewpoint.

“If I were asked to pay $200, no problem, we want to improve business in the village,” he said, citing that his BID assessment would be higher than that amount. “But this will add a layer of new taxes.”

Gregor responded that the BID would be prohibited from duplicating existing services.

Frost as well as Mezzaluna Restaurant co-owner Carmella Mastrantoni warned that such services as village beautification, streetscape enhancement, sponsorship of events and fireworks could theoretically be shifted to the BID, boosting the tax levy for the BID property owners.

People asked about whether the BID could be dissolved if it wasn’t accomplishing its objectives. Village Attorney Matt Fuller said it could, if it fulfilled its obligations to repay all debts it had incurred.

Frost responded that he was uneasy about the potential consequences of the BID board of directors incurring debt.

“I have a problem with people borrowing money that I’m obligated to repay,” he said.

Frost questioned why out of a proposed $150,000 budget for the BID’s initial year, $45,000 of it would be spent on administrative costs. Gregor said that it was necessary to spend that much to hire an effective, dynamic executive director. Frost countered that spending about one-third of a BID’s budget for administration was too much.

Gregor replied that Business Improvement Districts generally raise money from corporate sponsorships, fundraising and receipts from events — money that helps pay for the services it provides — and the Lake George BID would seek such an approach to keep the BID levy as low as possible. He added that the BID’s budget was capped at 20 percent of the village’s tax levy.

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