Five years ago, we commissioned a study by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) to assess the economic impact of Seneca Meadows. Five years later, we asked them to do it again. Both reports paint a very clear picture. Seneca Meadows has a dramatically positive impact. If we were to close, taxpayers would be faced with two overwhelmingly bad choices.
It’s important for taxpayers, small businesses, and our neighbors to have all the relevant information when it comes to Seneca Meadows, and the CGR report deals in facts, not fear.
Seneca County is dependent on manufacturing and public sector employment. Manufacturing is 18% of total jobs, and 28% of total payroll in the county. Government is responsible for 27% of total employment.
With total direct employment of 70, and payroll of $4.8 million, our impact is clear. Our average annual pay in 2020 was $66,000, more than double the average pay in Seneca County.
One thing we do that goes overlooked is our role in reducing costs for local taxpayers by allowing Seneca Falls and Waterloo residents to dispose of solid waste at the facility for free. “Gate Rates” savings were about $190,000 to Seneca Falls residents, $3,500 to Town of Waterloo residents, and $275,000 to Village of Waterloo residents in 2020.
Let’s discuss the property tax value of Seneca Meadows. The full value of real property owned by Seneca Meadows, and affiliated IESI Corporation in Junius, Waterloo and Seneca Falls totaled $16.1 million in 2020.
The annual property tax liability totaled about $500,000, and the largest single recipient of property tax revenue from Seneca Meadows is the Waterloo Central School District, at $254,000.
The experts at CGR write that local government could be faced with two options if we were to prematurely close. Drastic service cuts (like free waste disposal) could be up first. Where those cuts would be made is a mystery. Vince’s Park or the Rec Center? First responders? The Town Board won’t say.
The other option to cover lost Seneca Meadows revenue could be a massive property tax hike, similar to the recent doubling of taxes in Seneca Falls.
For the median value home in the Town of Seneca Falls the annual tax paid could rise 74%, from just over $1,000 to about $1,800. For the median value home in Waterloo, CGR estimates a 58% increase.
According to CGR, the principal source of revenue for the towns is the property tax. To replace the fiscal impact of a loss in Seneca Meadows revenue without increasing taxes on existing property owners, a new enterprise would have to bring a very substantial taxable assessed value.
Put simply, replacing the $3.2 million in Host Community Funds would require adding property with a taxable assessed value of $322 million! You should know the full value of the del Lago Resort & Casino is $101 million, and Goulds Pumps is $5.5 million. It would be great to see private investment like that injected into our economy.
Is there a homeowner in either town that thinks this is a realistic plan to grow the local economy or keep people in the Finger Lakes? Taxpayers need to ask elected leaders, “How will all this revenue be replaced?”
We’re happy to share a copy of the CGR report. If you’re interested in reading it in its entirety, please call or click at senecameadows.com.