The Gardiner Town Board has committed $50,000 to the Open Space Institute for the preservation of the Kiernan Farm. Six volunteers are working to raise that money by private donations before year-end, when the transaction is expected to close.
Suppose the Town had arranged a $50,000 loan at 6% to be repaid monthly over twenty years. Total payments over that period would be $85,972—$50,000 of principal and $35,972 of interest. We, the taxpayers, would pay that interest. If we each contribute our fair share to the private fundraising effort, we save $35,972 in interest. What’s my fair share? There’s the problem …
At New Year’s, Tax Collector Michelle Mosher mails 2,900 tax bills to property owners in Gardiner. These bills include the much larger county tax bill. You don’t have to understand the bill; you just have to pay it. All the checks come back to Michelle and the really swell thing—it’s not share and share alike with the county. Michelle keeps all the tax money for Gardiner until our tax levy is fully paid, normally by mid February. Only then does she send tax money to Kingston.
We six volunteers raising the money for the Kiernan Farm can’t mail you a bill you’re obliged to pay, and we have no money for stamps or other expenses anyway. Those collection cans, the big signs around town, we bought and paid for with our own money. Nor are we able to bill for a big daddy like County of Ulster, whose cut we can skim until we get our own. We have to do it one on one, by phone and email. Sometimes the first question we get is “What’s Kiernan Farm?” We’ll never reach everyone in Gardiner this way, even if all would be willing and able to contribute their “fair share.”
So, forget fair share.
Contribute whatever you can, but as much as you can. So far contributions have ranged from $20 to $1,000 with the average contribution about $150. Have a look at the coupon to the left (or donate online at www.townofgardiner.org) but please write a large check now, while you’re thinking about it and still impressed with my logic. Thanks.