Recent articles in the Deerfield Valley News have pointed out that the Hermitage Club is late paying their property taxes and there is even talk of tax sales to get the taxes that are late.
Yes they are late, but so what! The Hermitage Club and Jim Barnes and his partners are investing millions of dollars into the Mount Snow area. There will be bumps along the way, which is inevitable in a project of this magnitude. Keep in mind that the Haystack ski area has failed countless times under different ownership and for years was completely closed.
Mr. Barnes is taking a huge risk, in a risky business to begin with, with no real help from the state or Dover or Wilmington. We should be encouraging him rather than discouraging him. Keep in mind all the incentives other states have thrown at corporations to entice them to move. Look at Connecticut, a failing state, as an example. They just recently lost GE and Aetna to other states willing to give those companies an economic incentive to relocate! What has Vermont done to help Mr. Barnes?
Obviously you can’t relocate a mountain, but considering Haystack’s history, I do not understand why the taxes owed, which is found money for the most part anyway, should have been factored into the towns’ budgets in the first place. You shouldn’t spend or budget for what you don’t have, that is simple Economics 101.
Having said that, also keep in mind, that taxes are being paid currently and on time by all the many expensive homes that have been built and sold because of the Hermitage Club. These homes have added to the tax base! Yes, I know there are some properties that were paying taxes such as some of the inns that Mr. Barnes has bought, but these probably would be failing and not paying taxes anyway, however if he succeeds they will succeed.
With the towns collecting an extra 1 percent tax for “economic development, isn’t the Hermitage the biggest “economic” development besides Mount Snow? Every effort should be made to help the Hermitage Club succeed including by the way the permitting process. Dover and Wilmington will eventually get the taxes due and probably with interest if Mr. Barnes succeeds. The entire Deerfield Valley will be better off and benefit with the success of the Hermitage Club. The alternative would be devastating.
In the meantime I suggest to the towns, do not budget for what you do not have. The Hermitage Club is bringing a whole new group of people (second-home owners and their guests with money), who are eating in our restaurants and shopping in our stores, and helping to keep the valley growing. The Hermitage Club must succeed.
Finally, Dover should not take Mount Snow for granted as well. Dover should be doing everything they can to help them as well. Peaks Resorts is putting millions of dollars into improving Mount Snow. Let’s not forget about them but be thankful and helpful in any way possible. After all, the local ski industry is really the main economy here, and really the only engine that pays for almost everything either directly or indirectly in this area.