Do casinos deserve tax breaks?
On the other side, consider that development brings real costs in the form of roads, schools, health care and other public investments as visitors and new residents are drawn to the area. Plus there are the sometimes hidden costs such as crime, drunken driving, problem gambling and other potentially harmful social costs. (With this in mind, investing in resources to mitigate these kinds of social problems should be part of the equation.)
Remember that the broadest possible tax base supports lower tax rates for all. This is especially important in Sullivan County, where (you already know this if you’ve been reading Ken Hilton’s series of articles on taxes in The River Reporter) Sullivan County’s taxes are among the highest in the country. And so, not surprisingly, citizens want to know if granting tax incentives to casinos will only increase the burden on already overburdened taxpayers. When approximately one fifth the value of Sullivan County property already is tax exempt (something legislators regularly complain about), why would they consider offering more tax deals to those most able to pay in full? These are wealthy, well-established companies, not start-ups, where tax incentives may legitimately entice new businesses to do something they might not otherwise have done. There is no question that once the state’s gaming commission chooses the sites, the casinos are coming, tax breaks or no.
Finally, for us, if you’re a regular reader of these editorial pages, you know that The River Reporter consistently supports shopping locally to support our locally-owned businesses, and so for our part, we doubt the need for granting tax breaks to casinos that will rake in profits and send them off to corporate headquarters. To us, local business start-ups and local entrepreneurs seem far more deserving of tax breaks, if anyone is deserving.