To the editor:
I wish to share my opinion regarding the North Elba town board members' retaliatory comments and punitive proposal toward the Olympic Regional Development Authority. I will try to refrain from commenting on the board's dispute with the appointment to the ORDA board; however, I take issue with Mr. Doty and Mr. Miller's suggestion to withhold the town's $750,000 mandated appropriation to ORDA - this because of their personal dissatisfaction with the state's opinion that the board's nominee had a potential conflict of interest.
ORDA operates the New York state-owned Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre mountains and the Olympic Sports Complex, along with town-owned Olympic Center and Olympic Jumping Complex.
On an annual basis, New York state supports ORDA with $6 million to $10 million in operating and capital appropriations. ORDA has seen unparalleled assistance and support of its operation from both Albany and the state of New York for the amount of more than $300 million since 1982 (found on the ORDA website). In review of ORDA's annual revenue-expense reports of the venues, it is clear that all of the venues lose money, with the exception of the ski mountains. It is the public's opinion that much of the appropriated funds are directed at these annual losses.
If the North Elba town board followed Mr. Doty and Mr. Miller's proposed withholding the town's mandated appropriation of $750,000 from ORDA, the results could be devastating to our community. The following points outline the potential consequences:
The state may decide to alter its distribution of funding; after all, $6 million to $10 million to a region of about 9,000 residents is rather robust. Certainly, downstate and western New York legislators would appreciate larger appropriations to their districts. This could result in ORDA being capable of maintaining only the venues owned by the state. The town would have to manage and fund the remaining venues. I am confident this would result in an annual operating budget greater than $750,000.
The state might question the town's capped contribution of $750,000. Up until 2011, the town's appropriation, in accordance with state statute, was significantly higher ($902,645 in 2010). The ORDA board voted to cap this appropriation, offering relief to the town. Using the current appropriation formula, the town would have paid in excess of $1.6 million in this year's budget (Article 8, Title 28, New York state Public Authorities Law).
Should the town board proceed with Mr. Doty and Mr. Miller's directive and withhold the town's appropriation, and one (or both) of the above scenarios plays out, the results would be devastating to our community. The potential would be significantly higher taxes, closure of venues, lost jobs and a massive blow to our local economy. What would Lake Placid and the town of North Elba do without the oval, Olympic Center or jumping complex?
Every board member (town, village, school) is elected to serve the people of their voting district. As a voter, I urge the town of North Elba board to take on less personal and emotionally driven issues and abandon this potentially devastating and retaliatory response toward ORDA.