WHAT THE Suffolk County Trap and Skeet RANGE
HAS ACTUALLY COST THE TAXPAYERS


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One of the things that range supporters often say is that the range makes money for the County and is thus an asset, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The range does indeed generate revenue from usage fees, but when those fees are weighed against other costs, its value quickly diminishes to the point of irrelevance.  

We'll go with 1990 as a start point because that's when residential development really began in earnest. 
In that time frame, the range was closed for 5 years and operational for 15. 
So, the financial gains and losses for the range since 1990 goes something like this:

     
ITEM CREDIT DEBIT
Assuming average revenue of $25,000/yr until 2001 and $43,000/yr today (4 yrs.) $422,000.00  
Cost of the 2001 cleanup $200,000.00 to $300,000.00, (average to $250K) - $250,000.00
Cost of the $800,000.00 bond to maturity (15 years): - $990,000.00
Cost of 3 independent County range studies @ $50,000.00 ea. - $150,000.00
Tax loss to School District due to devaluation of 178 homes (per year continuing): -    $80,000.00
Tax loss to Brookhaven Town due to devaluation of 178 homes (per year continuing):   $50,000.00
Cost of 2 lawsuits by County.  (Actual figures unknown/conservative estimate): - $100,000.00
Cost of litigation to Brookhaven Town to defend itself.  - $200,000.00
     
SUB TOTALS: $422,000.00 $1,720,000.00
   
TOTAL TAXPAYER COST OF OPERATING THE RANGE SINCE 1990 (all costs) $1,298,000.00
TOTAL COST PER YEAR (AVERAGED OVER 15 YEARS) $86,533.00
REVENUE GENERATED BY THE RANGE (AVERAGED OVER 15 YEARS) $28,133.00
AVERAGE DEFICIT PER YEAR $58,400.00
   
 
 

At the time the range was reopened in 2006, Suffolk County had allotted $800,000 for noise mitigation, environmental restoration and general improvements; and let's not forget the fifty grand they spend on each of three separate studies to basically tell them that they couldn't mitigate the noise and that the lead shot lying around everywhere WAS HAZARDOUS and needed to be dealt with.  This $800,000 exists in the form of bonds, which will be paid back at about 5% interest over 15 years.  The current vendor claims that his first full-year proceeds to the county were around $43,000 and figures such as that would be impressive were it not for the fact that the annual cost to the taxpayers to service those bonds is around $66,000 leaving the County operating the range at a LOSS of over $20,000 per year.

Additionally, after studying the overall effect of the shooting range on homes in the area based on noise complaint calls received by Brookhaven Town, The Town Assessorís office reduced the assessed value of 178 homes in the area by an average of 6% citing the reopening of the range as the sole reason for the reduction. 
If one assigns even a modest market value of just $350,000 for each of these homes, that adds up to a loss of almost FOUR MILLION DOLLARS in community equity.  That loss in value translates into a loss of revenue (in the form of taxes) for the South Country School District, the Town of Brookhaven as well as for other services such as fire and ambulance -  and this shortfall is permanent.

All told, the cost to the TAXPAYERS OF SUFFOLK COUNTY for the operation of this range since 1990 (not including the five years it was closed) not only wipes out any revenue collected in usage fees but runs deeply into negative numbers which easily surpass ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

Not only that, but the range has operated at a LOSS of over FIFTY THOUSAND dollars per year for the last two decades - and the costs keep piling up. And with the prospect of fines for noise violations possibly reaching as much as $100,000.00 per year, the notion of the range being some sort of revenue generator is laughable.  Itís clear that the so-called profits that this range is said to develop are lost in the overburden of hidden costs and the negative impact on the Town, the community and the school district demonstrates that the costs surrounding this pollution factory affect far more than just the County coffers.

This is especially troubling in these stressful economic times and it's particularly insulting to know that the people who are actually footing the bill for this fiasco Ė the taxpayers Ė are being treated to fairy tales about the rangeís solvency when the reality is that itís little more than a bottomless money pit thatís being kept alive for the sake of Special Interest pandering.

 
     
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©2013 South Yaphank Civic Association