Stand up to the state on PILOTs
To the editor:
Having read articles and editorials on the proposed PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for taxes on state forest lands within the boundary of Adirondack Park, almost everyone has missed mentioning one very important detail.
That detail is that nowhere is it said that the state of New York must budget the necessary funds to pay taxes on the forest lands it owns in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondack communities cannot afford for this proposed payment in lieu of taxes to go into effect. Especially when for many of them state lands within their boundaries can compose over 50 percent of their tax base and even as high as over 90 percent in some communities in Hamilton County.
I believe that this can all be avoided by simply amending the Real Property Tax Law.
For many, many years now, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, including when I was its very first chairman in 1993 and 1994, proposed amending the Real Property Tax Law Section 532.
Our proposal was that we recommended the New York State Real Property Tax Law Section 532 be amended as follows: “The state of New York shall pay in perpetuity taxes on all forest lands located either wholly or partially within the Adirondack Park based upon the assessed value of said forest lands. Further that New York state budget the necessary amounts need to pay these taxes on an annual basis.”
In my opinion there is no better time than now to introduce legislation in both houses, the Assembly and the Senate, of the state Legislature.
With Sen. Betty Little, a Republican in the Republican-controlled state Senate, and Assemblyman D. Billy Jones in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, we can get this type of legislation passed this session.
Please do not hesitate. We need to act now!
I call upon every county, school district, town and villages located either wholly or partially within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park to pass resolutions in support of this much-needed amendment to our state’s Real Property Tax Law.
I ask that these Adirondack elected officials reach out to each of their own state Assembly members and state senators as well.
We must remind them that these state lands within the Adirondacks are enjoyed by residents throughout New York state and beyond. So the benefit realized by “ALL” state taxpayers is enormous and that fair payment of these taxes is a small cost to pay for the benefit received.
Finally, I also agree 100 percent with Fred Monroe of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board that towns and villages should use their veto power on any and all state land purchases within in the Adirondacks, as they are entitled to do because of my friend, the late Sen. Ronald B. Stafford.
I know that while I was town supervisor at the town of Altamont, now know as Tupper Lake, we did exactly that. We protected various hunting clubs and protected a way of life here in the Adirondacks for future generations.
Dean D. Lefebvre