August 17, 2011 —
Ari Straus, president and one of the owners of the Monticello Motor Club, turned out to the government center on August 11 to defend the facility and to spell out for lawmakers the benefits it provides to the community.
The club has been attacked by a group of neighbors recently who claim the noise of the engines of the vehicles on the track have diminished the quality of their lives, and negatively impacted the value of their homes. Also, several people pointed to information on the website of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency, that the club was supposed to have created 25 jobs but, in fact, only created eight.
Straus said the information provided by the neighbors was grossly inaccurate. He said the club now has 17 year-round employees that make an average of $56,000 per year, and hires 75 seasonal employees that earn an average of $13 per hour and work up to eight months a year. The total is more than double the number of full-time equivalent jobs promised to the IDA.
The information on the IDA site as of August 15 still listed eight as the number of jobs created. Jennifer Brylinski, executive director of the IDA, said that is the number she received from the club in February.
In an email, Straus wrote, “Like many companies, we have various employees, depending on their job functions, under different corporate entities that are all wholly owned by us,” which may have something to do with the discrepancy. He added that the numbers given to the legislature were accurate.
At the meeting, Straus listed other contributions to the community. In the past year, he said, the club paid about $20,000 in sales tax, approximately $24,000 in property taxes and over $32,000 in school taxes.
g to Straus, the club was also responsible for luring more than 10,000 visitors to Monticello from outside the county.
As a concession to the neighbors who have been strongly opposed to the club since before it was created, Straus said the club agreed to no longer allow car clubs and motorcycle clubs to use the track. Straus said this was met with satisfaction by at least one of the neighbors. But, he said, “This is a double-edged sword. That’s roughly 4,000 visitors for 2011 who are not coming to Sullivan County. We’ve also received a number of phone calls from restaurants that have seen a dip in 2011 because many of those car clubs and motorcycle clubs come for two-day events, stay overnight and eat in local restaurants.”