Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Alfano, Skelos Score Big For Belmont Host Communities


New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assemblyman Thomas Alfano (R-Franklin Square) today announced that a provision will be included in the 2008-09 New York State budget providing $5 million in host community aid to Elmont, Floral Park and the other Belmont Park host communities.

“This money will help reduce taxes, improve our schools and promote economic development and community revitalization,” said Senator Skelos. “This was a long, tough process to ensure that the Belmont Park communities were treated fairly. I’m grateful that the community stood by us during this fight and this victory clearly demonstrates that the fight was worth it.”

“Our next job is to promote economic development, create jobs and bring new business to the Elmont and Floral Park communities,” said Assemblyman Alfano. “By expanding the tax base and having this funding available, we’ve set the stage for making Belmont a destination point and an economic engine for Elmont.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Elmont, Floral Park, Bellerose Terrace, Bellerose Village, South Floral Park and Nassau County will eligible to apply to New York State for compensation necessary to reimburse property taxpayers for costs associated with Belmont Park Racetrack. Applications will be considered by the franchise oversight board and grants must be designed to reduce or eliminate this additional property tax burden. Such expenses may include police, fire and other public safety costs, the improvement and beautification of nearby roadways and the added costs borne by local school districts.

This $5 million appropriation will become available as soon as the state franchise oversight board approves $50 million in real estate development projects at Belmont Park. Similar host community aid allotments for Saratoga, Yonkers and, upon the opening of a video lottery terminal (“VLTs”) parlor at Aqueduct, are included in the budget on an annual basis. Economic development at Belmont Park is specifically included within the new franchise agreement the New York Racing Association (“NYRA”) executed with the state in February. Pursuant to that agreement, the franchise oversight board can terminate NYRA’s franchise to operate the state’s thoroughbred racetracks if it fails to meet certain performance standards.

“Property tax relief, economic development and jobs go hand-in-hand,” said Senator Skelos. “Assemblyman Alfano and I won’t rest until real economic development occurs at Belmont Park. We will continue fighting for the area to ensure that we create new opportunities for those who live in the Belmont Park communities.”

While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has refused to authorized VLTs at Belmont Park, Senator Skelos and Assemblyman Alfano fought to provide host community aid for the Belmont Park communities through the state budget. Until Senator Skelos and Assemblyman Alfano successfully included this funding within the state budget, only those areas with VLT parlors had been eligible for host community aid.

“This victory shows the importance of persistence and demonstrates why you should never throw in the towel,” said Assemblyman Alfano. “When some said it wasn’t possible to deliver this funding for Elmont, Floral Park and the other communities near the racetrack, Senator Skelos and I kept fighting and the people won.”

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