A Pyramid scheme

To the Editor:

Timing is everything. Not a week after the Guilderland Planning Board declared the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Pyramid’s Rapp Road Development Project as accurate and complete, did it become public knowledge that Pyramid was suing the town of Guilderland, seeking a nearly 50-percent slash of its tax assessment to the tune of $139 million.

According to the article covering the story in The Altamont Enterprise on Aug. 6 [“As losses mount, Crossgates seeks to cut tax assessment in half”], Town Assessor Heather Weinhold explained that, should such a challenge be successful, typically, but dependent on the court order, the newly assessed valuation would be frozen for three years.

What makes this interesting is that touted in the projected benefits cited in the Camoin Report for the Environmental Impact Statement of the Rapp Road Project and indeed a rallying cry for all of its proponents is the significant tax revenues to be generated for Guilderland. These are based on a projected assessment of approximately $25 million, although the report is very careful to state, “the following estimated figures are not intended to bind either the applicant or the Town Assessor.” How prophetic is that. 

It is hard to argue with $25 million of new revenue as a bonanza for the town. But what we are seeing now is that this estimated $25 million will not be additional revenue; it will in fact be a drop in the bucket toward replacing the actual revenue that will be lost should Pyramid be successful in reneging on what the town has budgeted as Pyramid’s fair contribution to our finances.

And what Pyramid will not be contributing, will be in place most probably for three years. That’s a lot of income that our town will not have in its coffers. 

According to Sean Mulkerrin’s article, Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber acknowledges that capital projects will have to be put on hold due to the budgetary shortfall. One can only assume that these projects were not on the docket were there not a need.

So Pyramid is seeking to go ahead with its multi-million dollar venture, with a cost benefit for the town that will be a minor fraction of what it is refusing to pay, and needed remediation projects for the town get set aside. Shameful doesn’t begin to describe it.

Fair would be a moratorium on any development expenditures in absence of meeting the established required obligations to the town first. If not that, then Guilderland is looking at the most well-crafted boondoggle that the town has ever seen.

Which brings to mind: What’s it called when you get people to buy into a venture that promises big payoffs but really only profits the person who initiated the deal in the first place. Oh, I know — it’s a Pyramid scheme. 

Iris Broyde


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