Having spent more than a decade as an aide to an upstate New York senator, the late Ron Stafford, I retain some residual habits, one of which is flipping through the Governor’s budget proposals as soon as they’re released, alert, I would hope, to anything that might have an impact on our region, positive or negative.
That’s how I happened to become aware of a proposal in this year’s budget to remove Forest Preserve lands from the real property tax standard and authorize New York State to send Adirondack communities “payments in lieu of taxes.”
I gave it more than a cursory glance because in 1989, when I worked for Senator Stafford, the current governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, proposed something very similar. » Continue Reading.
Northern New Yorkers are definitely not strangers to cold winter weather. But most of us would rather have not had to deal with the brutally relentless cold that gripped much of the nation during December and January.
According to data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center, cities including Buffalo, New York; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Bangor, Maine all experienced their coldest 2-week-stretch of weather ever recorded last Dec. 23 – Jan. 5. The week between Christmas and New Year’s was the coldest on record in Buffalo’s history. And, on Dec. 28, 30 record low temperatures were set across the country; the lowest of which was recorded in Watertown, NY; -32°F. Eighteen east coast cities saw record lows on January 2, including Morrisville, Vermont; -29°F. Their previous low for that date was -14°F. And let’s not forget he first major storm of 2018; the infamous ‘bomb cyclone’ or bombogenesis. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has announced they are hiring up to twelve boat launch stewards to work at New York and Vermont public boat launch access areas during the steward program’s 12th season.
The stewards help to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species by identifying high-risk boats for courtesy inspection and providing information about invasive species spread prevention. » Continue Reading.
The Eastern hemlock is one of the most abundant trees in New York and a major component of the forests in the Lake George – visible in nearly every corner of watershed.
Hemlock stabilize streambanks and shorelines, protect water quality of the streams that flow into the lake, and provide value to local forest products economies.
But last summer, a small population of hemlock woolly adelgid was found on Prospect Mountain in Lake George. The terrestrial invasive insect, native to East Asia, has been killing large swaths of hemlock trees from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Catskills and is making its way north, having finally reached Lake George. » Continue Reading.
A major new program in Governor Andrew’s Cuomo’s 2018-19 state budget is the Empire Forests of the Future Initiative, referred to as “EFFI.”
This new program seeks to overhaul and modernize two longstanding “Preferential Forest Tax Law Programs” known by the shorthands “480” and “480a” for their respective parts of the Real Property Tax Law. These programs provide tax exemptions for forestland owners who enroll their lands and manage them for long-term for forestry purposes. » Continue Reading.
The Nature Conservancy purchased an additional 10 acres in Willsboro, structuring the transaction to protect forestland, enhance outdoor recreation, and make it possible for Makers Guild Inc., a new nonprofit, to acquire a former grocery store building.
In advance of the purchase, the Conservancy worked with the landowner — a commercial real estate broker — and the town zoning board to subdivide an 11-acre tract into two parcels, allowing for continued development in the town’s main travel corridor. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo from the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Executive Director and Counsel Neil Woodworth.
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We write to ask that you amend your proposed State Budget and legislative proposals in order to restore existing provisions of Real Property Tax law 534 and 542 that annually authorize the payment of ad valorem taxes to Adirondack and Catskill taxing districts hosting the NYS Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
On February 2nd, as the Adirondack Park Agency’s board was listening to its staff’s proposal for a final agency recommendation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the classification of Boreas Ponds and the 20,500-acre parcel surrounding the ponds, board member Chad Dawson asked some tough questions of his fellow board members.
Dawson is a professor at the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and an internationally recognized expert on recreation, natural resources and wilderness management. » Continue Reading.
Recent Adirondack Almanack posts by Anthony Hall and Peter Bauer broke the news that Governor Andrew Cuomo has stuck a provision in his 2018-19 State budget to cap the annual State Land taxes we all share with towns and school districts in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Furthermore, the Governor proposes to convert the long tradition of full payment of taxes on the Forest Preserve into (capped) payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT).
The approximately three-million acre, publicly-owned and “forever wild” NYS Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks (and a small amount outside the Parks) is taxable for all purposes. Since 1886 the law has required that Forest Preserve lands must be valued for tax purposes as if privately owned (today’s Section 532a of the Real Property Tax Law, or RPTL). » Continue Reading.
If I had to pick a side, I suppose I would cast my lot with the older and wiser set who are cheering the APA’s decision to classify the sublime Boreas Ponds tract as a road-accessible wilderness, balanced by an adjoining swath of Wild Forest offering sucor to wielders of mountain bikes, snowmobiles, Falcon Heavy rocketships and any other toy that might strike their fancy. » Continue Reading.
The Cuomo Administration has proposed to cap Forest Preserve property tax assessments and change state law from the current system of locally assessed property taxes to a system of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) with a rate set by the State Comptroller.
The state is doing this to save money because Forest Preserve assessments and the PILOT for tax payments would be centrally controlled. This proposal raises issues about a likely decrease in state lands tax payments over time and subsequent tax shift to private lands in Forest Preserve communities in the Adirondacks and Catskills. » Continue Reading.
“Salt Reduction by 50% by 2020” – among local governments, highway superintendents and environmental protection groups on Lake George, that’s the buzz phrase of the season.
“30,000 metric tons of salt are deposited every year within the Lake George basin,” said Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “But we know we can reduce its use. We can apply salt smarter and make our roads safer.” » Continue Reading.
The decision by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is in: by a vote of 8 to 1 the APA Board voted to recommend a classification for the Boreas Ponds Tract that will split the tract between Wilderness and Wild Forest, leaving Gulf Brook open into the heart to the parcel. In their comments many of the Commissioners lauded the “balance” and “compromise” they felt this recommendation represented.
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