Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's Ours is Ours, What's Yours is Up for Grabs -- This Month's Edition

The trustees of Monroe Community College have chosen the downtown High Falls site as venue for a new City campus.   This follows years of deliberation and study.   In any ordinary situation, that would be the end of the decision phase.

But the community college is sponsored by the County government, which is run by Republicans.   So the trustees' decision is merely the point where dialogue begins, according to James Lawrence and the rest of the Democrat and Chronicle's editorial board.

We've noted before the attitude of the local Democratic-Media Complex, that it's OK for public bodies run by Democrats to make their own decisions.   But public bodies run by or affiliated with Republican branches of government are supposed to share decision-making with Democratic institutions.   "What's ours is ours.   What's yours is up for grabs."

All this to protect the financial interests of a major Democratic donor, Tom Wilmot, whose company owns the seedy, crime-ridden Sibley Center that the college has decided to leave behind.

A deal with the college is Wilmot's way out of the $22 million tax debt his company owes the City on the building.   Something you know you'll never read about in a D&C editorial.

County Executive Brooks today issued a statement respecting the trustees' choice.

The County Legislature, which must approve funding to renovate Sibley, just as it will have to approve funding for the proposed High Falls site, should now adopt a formal resolution saying:   no funding for Sibley's.

Go forward with High Falls, or consolidate all students at MCC's main campus.

If not for City Democrats protecting a major contributor, the college at High Falls would be a no-brainer.   Between this and Renaissance Square, we've learned much about the priorities of the men and women who govern the City.

Those priorities don't include the people who live there.   But then, why should they?   The people who live there return the same team to run the place no matter how badly they're governed.   Are they not getting the government they deserve?


Rottenchester said...

I agree with the part about the D&C, but I disagree a bit with your take on Wilmot -- the City has an interest other than helping a Democrat here. Wilmot and the City are like two drunks leaning against each other. If either one drops out, the other falls.

Wilmot wants to salvage his investment in the building, and it's true that he'll lose money if the City takes it away. But if the City repossessed it for back taxes, they wouldn't get anything near $20 million for it. It would be a giant, empty white elephant with zero tax revenue, and the city might ultimately have to pay to tear it down.

That's why the City is desperate to revitalize the area around the Sibley building, whether it's owned by a Democrat, Republican or Hobbit. The problem with the City's strategy is that MCC, like every other downtown tenant, has its pick of the litter among the acres of empty commercial real estate, so they don't need to stay in an older building.

Monkeytoe said...

Where are you getting the $22 million figure for taxes owed? Are you sure that they don't owe some amount of back taxes and the building is assessed at $22 million, which would be roughly $1 million a year in city taxes. That would mean they haven't paid taxes in over 20 years and owe as much or more in taxes then the building is worth. (Not to mention County and RCSD taxes that the City collects when it collects property tax).

I can't even imagine Sibley's is assessed at $22 million as B&L (a much nicer, newer building) is assessed at about $27 million.

More likely they owe a few years of taxes (which is actually typical if the owner is challenging the assessment) worth $1 million or so.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the bombs I am about to throw. Tom Richards is a blow hard bully! He nuked Ren Sq, the ferry, Midtown, MCC and, worse, he thinks he is the smartest man in the room! Worse, his media "hit man", Gary Walker, obviously talks his talk!
Try this scenario, tell his Mayorness to go "stick it up his...Sibley" Tell him that we (that would be us!) do not need a city, Midtown, RPO, Sibley, or, for that matter, him! What we need is real leaders with real issues!
Now, to the lej...Ted Obrien, find, not two, but four votes to get this deal done. If you do not, you will be painted as the greatest political clowns of all times!
Last, Dems...WTF!

Philbrick said...

Rottenchester --

Yes. Like your analysis. Thank you.

Monkeytoe --

It's a combination of payments in lieu of taxes and city loan payments.

$22.3 million today, according to WHAM-TV reporter Rachel Barnhart on Monday.

It was $19.25 million as of January 2010

According to a former participant in the Wilmot ownership, it was $18 million as of January 2009

In fairness to Mr. Wilmot's company, the opportunities he's had to turn the building around have been shot down by the City under Mayors Duffy and Johnson.

Monkeytoe said...


Interesting. If the building owes that much (and I doubt Wilmont personally owes it - the building is probably owned by an LLC formed only to own that building), it is in the City's interest to foreclose on the building and sell it. the City will never see that $22 million or even a significant portion of it from Wilmont, even if the City gets MCC to stay there.

The City's best bet for the property is to take it and sell it at about 1/2 it's assessed value and recoup somewhere around $10 million. Someone will be willing to buy the building at a significant discount, put money into it and get it leased up.

So, in reality, the City is in fact trying to save Wilmont's money. B/c the clear thing to do in the City's financial interest, and in the interest of getting the bld back into lease marketable shape, is to do a tax foreclosure and sell the building to someone else. That way the City gets some serious $$ toward the back-taxes and the building is more likely to become a profitable building again for its owners.

That the City is doing everything in its power to avoid that shows that it is more about who owns the building than anything else. That the City let the back taxes build up to this extent also demonstrates this point - the City wouldn't do that for most property owners.

Wilmont is obviously not going to put more money into the building and hasn't cared about paying taxes on the building for many years. So the idea that he will do so now if we get MCC to simply stay there is not a serious argument.

Monkeytoe said...

Tom Richards is a blow hard bully! He nuked Ren Sq, the ferry, Midtown, MCC and, worse, he thinks he is the smartest man in the room!

I suppose I'm one of the few conservatives who didn't think the Ren Square idea made any sense in any of the iterations presented.

Duffy ended the Ferry, not Richards - and the ferry needed to ended. The real blame there goes to Johnson and his idiotic deals putting the City on the financial hook for the ferry in the first place. A ferry idea isn't terrible, but they went way too far with it - too big of a boat, too big of a "port" and too much taxpayer money invested.

Tom Richards is a very smart guy and probably the best mayor that republicans can hope to see in the City. We are likely going to be stuck with true liberal/Gantt proteges like Lovely Warren in the future, which will only further doom the City. But I agree that any opposition to MCC at High Falls is not really merited.

Philbrick said...

Monkeytoe --

Yes, as stated in the posting, it's a Wilmot company that owns the property, not anyone personally.