Thursday, 21 February 2019 12:20

Malta Strategic Plan Creates Controversy

Malta Strategic Plan Creates Controversy

MALTA — The town of Malta is grappling over what could be the blueprint for the town’s future. Many prominent voices within Malta have stark contrasting opinions as to what is the driving force behind the town’s economy: residential versus commercial growth.

A strategic plan and report put forward by Malta Economic Development Committee was accepted by the Malta Town Board last week. The report tackles many facets that make up the town’s residential and commercial development, agriculture and agri-business, open-space, big attractions and small business.

The Malta Economic Development Committee is a team of local business and economic development professionals that serves as consultants and advisors to the town board. The committee was established in 2016.

The report is a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats (SWOT) Analysis on the town’s economic development, commercial investment and ongoing positive growth.

“We wanted to try to help Malta find some better balance between commercial and residential. The town had really focused on residential development. So we said if we’re going to try to encourage more commercial development in the town, we should try to focus it geographically and try to preserve the rural integrity and the balance of the town and prevent growth in green areas,” said Timothy Dunn, Malta Town Board Member and Chair of the Economic Development Committee.

Dunn calls the report a blueprint for the town and also hopes it prevents the creation of a general town tax. Malta is one of the few towns in Saratoga County that does not have a general town tax.

“The fact that without a clear strategy over 1,500 apartments in downtown Malta have been built or approved prior to our team coming into office... 1,500 apartment units in a town with a population of 16,000 is so far out of balance that I can’t even describe that,” Dunn said.

“We took a targeted approach in trying to increase that value by encouraging commercial development, and since we’ve undertaken this effort, we’ve seen a significant uptake over half a percent increase in revenue to the town. That is pretty big number in a $10 million budget, a half a million increase in revenue is pretty significant,” he added.

However, Michael York, President of the Malta Business and Professional Association, believed that increase in revenue has been caused by residential development. “If you look at the tax revenue growth in the town of Malta, those properties are taxed as commercial. So, the big boom in property tax revenue that you’ve received in the last three to five years has been because of those properties being built. They bring in a substantial amount of tax revenue for the county,” York said. York believes the report is largely based on opinion and does not include enough numbers and data.

Malta Supervisor, Darren O’Connor, maintains that the report is a list of recommendations and expects the board to act on some of the recommendations outlined in the report.

“... The board is the policy making body for the town so the board will be... considering the report and then acting on the recommendations. Hopefully the board will be able to put some more definition to it," O'Connor said. 

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