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 Opinion: Extravagant Projects Doom Whitehall

The Huletts Current

News & Opinion About Huletts Landing, N.Y.

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Opinion: Extravagant Projects Doom Whitehall

May 31st, 2011 · No Comments


Another Whitehall store sits empty while municipal officials spend extravagantly on unnecessary projects.

At a time when Whitehall is literally flooded, no new businesses are coming into the area, and school enrollment is dropping faster that Newton’s apple, what does the school board in its “wisdom” decide to do?

If you guessed, approve a special election on June 29th to vote on spending $625,000 in reserve funds to completely reconstruct the school’s auditorium, you clearly know how the Whitehall school board operates. School officials trot out their standard lines that it will have no impact on taxes when in fact the effect has already been felt because we have already been taxed for this money.

Sadly, this is why Whitehall is at the tipping point as an area in rapid decline. Instead of attracting new business, focusing on lowering the tax base and stabilizing the population, Whitehall is doing everything in its power to destroy the tax base and drive out those who would consider investing in the community.

Additionally when municipalities across the country are working on shedding costs and tightening their fiscal belts, the town and village of Whitehall are considering acquiring the former armory that the state of New York is trying to give away. (That’s correct, the state of NY doesn’t want it but Whitehall may acquire it.) It has been reported that a new roof for the armory alone may cost $400,000.

Every year when passing through Whitehall it seems that things continue to slide downhill. This is in spite of the fact that Whitehall has many natural advantages; its location on a major thoroughfare between Vermont and New York, a train stop three and half hours from Manhattan, summer tourism, and even the local scenery. Somehow, Whitehall is never able to fully capitalize on any of these great assets.

Why then is Whitehall stuck in a permanent state of demise? This is my opinion.

For many years, Whitehall has suffered from very poor local leadership. This applies across the spectrum from town and village officials to members of the school board. The first course of action seems to be always to raise taxes and very little is done to save money or cut taxes, market the community or reach out to business owners. When a developer approached Whitehall last year about building a new supermarket and restaurant, the proposal went nowhere.

What should Whitehall do? What has been shown to work in other states and municipalities?

Cut taxes everywhere, try to get new business to come into the area, use the area’s assets to invite people in, not drive them out. Be encouraging and helpful to those who invest in the community. Whitehall is now at the tipping point, continuing to raise taxes and take on public projects that are unnecessary and costly.

Whitehall’s demise will continue and accelerate on its current path. It needs to change quickly and soon. Why are we spending money on capital improvements at the school which is projected to lose students for the foreseeable future? Why is the expensive undertaking of acquiring the armory necessary when people can’t afford their taxes currently?

Sadly the answer is poor leadership that has no vision. Leadership that is dooming the Whitehall area with tax and spend policies that are too extravagant for its taxpayers to afford any longer.

Tags: The Landing · Whitehall