Len Bernardo, owner of SkateTime 209 in Accord, told the Ulster County Development Agency that his plan to hire twenty-six people for the roller rink was a prediction, not a promise. Bernardo appeared with his attorney at the IDA's October 24 meeting in order to address whether or not his business has been underperforming on promises made to get property tax breaks.Well, no one has been talking about loans. We've been talking about tax breaks. And the Bernardos have received $160,000 of such breaks since 2005, and are slated to receive another $35,000 between now and 2016. So, yes, Bernardo is right. They didn't receive loans. Instead, what they received are essentially grants. And grants don't have to be repaid. We're just giving this money to the Bernardos for free. This is somehow better than if we had loaned them the money?
The question of underperformance for SkateTime 209 was raised once before, in 2008 when Bernardo, whose wife Terry is currently serving as chair of the Ulster County Legislature, was a candidate for County Executive. The application for tax breaks stated that there would be twenty-six jobs, but there are in fact only nine full-time equivalents, or FTEs, employed there. However, Bernardo maintains that the only promises made were in the contract with the IDA, not the application, and have been fulfilled: that the vacant land was bought, and the building erected and outfitted with all the necessary equipment. The venture was self-financed; the IDA did not loan any money.
But we've been over all of this, haven't we? What I find troubling about this piece is that the author appears to be the same Terrence Ward who ran unsuccessfully for the New Paltz town board as a Republican last election cycle. And guess what? Ward also received the Independence Party endorsement from -- drum roll, please -- Len Bernardo, the subject of his superficial piece. Shouldn't this newspaper, at the very least, disclose the fact that Ward has a political relationship with the Bernardos? Maybe? Better editors, please.
UPDATE: One of our Town of Rochester GOP friends reminds me that it was in fact county legislature Ward ran for, not town board. Thank you, Manuela, for the heads-up.