Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Taxing Public Safety at Wal-Mart

There is an instructive article in today's Rockland Journal News about the public safety issues at the Palisades Mall in the town of Clarkstown. It seems that Clarkstown supervisor Alex Gromack is asking Rockland's County Executive to rebate a considerably larger slice of the county's sales tax because, in Gromack's words, "The county doesn't spend a single cent on the mall, but we provide policing, building and fire inspection. Our tax payers pay for the mall being here."

Food for thought, no? Certainly something that the Town of Ramapo needs to consider when it tries to evaluate the worth of allowing Wal-Mart to build a giant super center on Route 59. It costs Clarkstown $3.3 million a year to police the mall. As police chief Noonan told the Journal News "there are thousands of arrests for white collar crimes" at the mall.

Imagine what the Wal-Mart super center will bring to then quietude of Monsey. Now Chief Noonan does reassure us that the Palisades Mall "does not have a lot of violent crime," but how much is a lot, especially for tranquil, law-abiding Monsey? All of this brings us back to our original point about Wal-Mart's "high cost of low prices." Too often policy makers only focus on the so-called benefits but overlook the considerable costs that Wal-Mart adds to a local community.