To the editor:
Some local politicians seem to want to make a campaign issue out of a proposal that the Trudeau Institute campus be annexed by the village of Saranac Lake.
Can someone explain to me why the village residents would even want to annex the Trudeau Institute property?
As I recall, on June 28 the Enterprise reported that Mayor Rabideau had said that this change "would save Trudeau $70,000 in annual operating costs, due to the cheaper water and sewer rates the institute would get if it's inside the village." I guess the implication intended (if not actually stated) was that this would help induce the Institute to stay in Saranac Lake.
As the saying goes - "follow the money." All that would actually happen is that you would move an imaginary line to the other side of the institute's property. Since people on one side of the line pay only half as much (per gallon) for their water as people on the other side, by moving Trudeau to the "good" side of the line, their water bill is instantly cut in half. But wait ... the overall water use remains the same, and the cost of operating the water system remains the same. In order to give this gift to the institute, you have just cut the village water system's annual income by $70,000.
How does the village board intend to cover this new $70,000-per-year shortfall? The village may be able to pump water - but it can't print money! Will they run the water system at a loss - making up this shortfall with increased taxes on village residents? Will they simply increase the water rates on all of the other users - which is really little more than a new hidden tax on local residents? Or will they offer some of this new, magical political mathematics that turns a 1.99 percent tax increase into a tax cut because it is less than a tax cap?
Perhaps Mayor Rabideau could explain: You have told us where the $70,000 is going (a gift to the institute); can you tell us where the $70,000 is coming from?
And I don't recall hearing anything from the Trudeau Institute on this matter. I doubt that we will; I can't imagine that they enjoy this game of political football - especially since they are the ball! Does the institute even want to be annexed? And what tangible benefit will they offer local residents for this $70,000 annual gift?