To the Editor:
In town supervisor Ronald Moore’s article in the Valley News on July 26, 2014, his concluding sentence is “I think the question boils down to, does the Town of North Hudson want to control its own destiny, or does it want George Moore to?” This question along with the negative statements against George Moore in particular and the private sector in general along with his statement that George Moore failed to compromise for the good of the community sounds more like the Town Supervisor is using an Essex County taxpayer, and a good tax payer at that, ( and also the private sector) as a scapegoat and justification for Supervisor Moore and/or the County’s own actions and failures.
The biggest failure of Town Supervisor and County Legislator , Ronald Moore, is the fact that the County waited until 2014 to have a tax sale auction on properties that had unpaid taxes since 2005. This was a nine -year wait when they only had to wait a maximum of 3 years. What did Ronald Moore and the public sector accomplish during this delay? They failed to collect any taxes on the lands . George Moore was at least paying his taxes and financially assisting the Town of North Hudson, County of Essex, and the School District. I believe we were informed that the amount of delinquent taxes owed on the Frontier Town parcels was around $140,000 in 2014, or roughly $15,500 a year. If the county had sold this property 3 years after the tax delinquency, instead of 9 years, I would bet that the amount of taxes owed would be less than the bid price, plus the properties would have been placed back on the tax roll, and, assuming the same assessment of over $500,000 , the Town and County would have received another $100,000 in taxes for the last 6 years. This late County tax sale was not the fault of George Moore, who by the way paid Town and County taxes on his adjoining parcel of over $63,000and school taxes of over $36,000 from October 2004, when he purchased the parcel, through 2014.
The second major failure is the controversial manner in which the county rejected the highest bidder at the public auction ($49,500 bid price but $57,000 after including all expenses and auction fees) only for the County to immediately sell it to the County legislator’s own Town (after supervisor Moore apparently sent an email to the County offering $49,550 the weekend before the County was to make a decision on approving the tax auction bids, and shortly thereafter increased the offer to $60,000). The County Legislators in a close vote approved the sale to their fellow legislator after George Moore, who refused to be outbid increased his offer to $65,000. Who knows what the County would have received for this property had Supervisor Moore been required to bid at the Auction instead of being given the special privilege of bidding after the Auction. It was very satisfying to see many of the County legislators (but unfortunately not the majority) realizing, after they had more facts than was first presented to them by Supervisor Ronald Moore, that this idea of allowing anyone, and especially a fellow legislator, to outbid an individual bidder outside the auction and therefore control who gets ownership of the property, was not “ right “even if the county had the power to do this. It gave the public the appearance of Political Favortism at the expense of the electors. Many people thought that the legislators’ should be bound by the same rules as the people who elect them. Some people,
especially in the Town of North Hudson, did not want to see their taxes increased due to removal of Frontier Town lands (and its $500,000 assessment) from both the Town and County tax rolls or to pay for repairs to remedy environmental issues of removing asbestos from the deteriorated buildings on the premises, not to mention the Town and County litigation expenses involved in testing a relatively new law to determine whether the County and Town had the legal right to do what they did to George Moore.
Supervisor Ronald Moore’s implication that George Moore would not compromise is very misleading to the public as was the private letters Ronald Moore wrote to the taxpayers in the Town of North Hudson, in criticism of George Moore’s failure to renovate the A-Frame. In both situations, Ronald Moore left out some very important facts. According to the minutes of the March 2014 County committee meeting, Supervisor Ronald Moore knew that Mr. George Moore’s A-frame had title issues (the A-frame building was not entirely on the deed the County gave George in 2004) and questioned whether the Town of North Hudson should acquire this property before the public auction as someone might use that knowledge for “leverage.” As for the compromise, George Moore offered to pay the $65,000 and in addition give the Town of North Hudson and/or the County of Essex a permanent easement for the snowmobile trails, an offer that will still stand because it is good for his adjoining property and at the same time good for the Town of North Hudson and Essex County. By the way, the snowmobile trail can be located on the Internet and already goes through the Frontier Town lands. In fact, the County could have sold the property at public auction with the restriction that there would have to be a continued use of the snowmobile trail which the County failed to do before the auction. After this offer was made, the County made a Counter Offer which basically required Mr. George Moore to pay the $65,000 for approximately one-third of the land and was required to repair and/or remove the deteriorated buildings on the property, some of which contained asbestos and would have required environmental review and perhaps significant expenses to remedy the environmental issues. This was not a serious offer to settle the dispute and George Moore should not be blamed for rejecting such an offer. George Moore is the founder of Moore Family Real Estate LLC, the owner of the A-frame building and over 80 other rental units all maintained to meet or exceed HUD standards. He has been buying, selling, leasing, developing, and maintaining properties for over 50 years. He has been the owner and operator of several businesses. He has been a member of the Clinton County Area Development Agency. He totally financed and help develop a new and badly needed medical clinic in Nicaragua through the Mission of Hope. He has an honorary degree in business from Clinton Community College and is a major financial supporter of the Community College. He does not want the Frontier Town properties renamed “Mooreville”, whether after him or Ronald Moore.
The New York State Constitution requires that municipalities purchase property for only a public purpose (and not for speculation-resale for profit). There is also special law which allows a town to purchase property for park and recreational purposes with resulting removal from the tax rolls. However, voter approval is required if enough voters petition the town board for a referendum. The voters in the Town of North Hudson will be controlling their own destiny, not Ronald Moore nor George Moore. The voters should thank the newspapers as well as the persons petitioning for the referendum for having the opportunity for being involved in this very valuable system of checks and balances. Your vote will not only affect the Town of North Hudson but may also influence the way the County does business in the future with every other Town in the County, and if the vote is against the town purchasing the property, it might very well end George Moore’s litigation against the County of Essex and Town of North Hudson .
William Russell, Esq.,
with George Moore’s approval