To the editor,
An easy mark is a con game term used to designate a person, place or thing that can easily be taken advantage of.
The city of Fulton has been an easy mark for numerous con men over the years in regards to the Nestle site.
First up was a South African company that was going to bring chocolate back to the City of Fulton. They gave us hope that never came to be, but they did pay some taxes.
Next up was a developer that was going to turn the site into a money-making business enterprise. First, he would have to take all the scrap metal out and sell it. Well he did take 90 percent of the scrap metal and sell it, all the while telling the City leaders that he had some very good people interested in the site. When asked about the site and the progress the city leaders said it was going on as planned. During this time, the developer wasn’t paying any taxes and made a small fortune off the scrap metal. After a mere $1 million of unpaid taxes had accrued the city took possession of the property.
Next up was a contractor that was going to finish the demolition and get it shovel-ready for the new Aldi store. Again, the contractor took what was left of the scrap metal. The city leaders thought this was the next best thing since sliced bread. Also, this contractor sold the city crushed bricks costing the city $300,000, for bricks that had been given to the contractor for the clean up, this was going to be for the foundation of the Aldi site which turned out to be unusable. After numerous investigations by several government regulatory departments, the operation was shut down. This time, the cost was over a couple million dollars in clean up and finishing the demolition of the remaining buildings.
Now this brings us to the latest conman. This one isn’t new to the city of Fulton but the City Leaders fail to learn from past encounters. The county Industrial Development Agency (IDA) has again pulled the wool over the eyes of the city leaders. They for years took advantage of the city by charging them a $10,000 fee every year. When asked why the city would pay this? The City said it was for the IDA to promote the city and help bring business into the city. After being informed that the city of Fulton was the only municipality in Oswego County that was paying this fee, the city leaders stopped. This con didn’t stop the city from being conned one more time. After being advised several times not to allow the IDA any portion of the Nestle site, because the city didn’t need another non-profit that doesn’t pay taxes but uses all the city’s public safety services. The city leaders fell into the trap again.
At the Dec. 17 city council meeting, the city leaders sold what they called “an empty commercial lot on South Seventh Street — that empty lot was lot number 6 on the Nestle site, the largest one of all the sites up for sale. The asking price was $688,000. They sold it to the IDA for $80,000. Now they again made promises of bringing manufacturing back to Fulton. That building is going to be incubator for start-up businesses. That building will never pay and taxes. All the while the IDA will collect rent from the businesses that use the building.
Now, I’m not against the development of the Nestle site, but if they sold it to a reputable developer, then it would have been still on the tax rolls. We need development but we also need taxpaying businesses, we already have enough non-profits in our city that are bleeding our services dry.
Wake up, Fulton, before it’s too late.
Frank Castiglia Jr.