The NYS Assembly left Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Forest Preserve property tax changes out of its one-house budget bill late Monday night. The Assembly budget bill, a statement of priorities for the State Assembly, is expected to go to a vote later this week. The State Senate is expected to release its own one-house budget this week as well.
Cuomo’s budget proposes a cap on Forest Preserve property tax assessments and changes to state law from the current system of locally assessed property taxes to a system of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs). (First reported by Anthony Hall here at the Adirondack Almanack.) » Continue Reading.
In late summer 1955, after two months of surveying and studying uranium deposits in Saratoga County, Robert Zullo and his partners, George McDonnell and Lewis Lavery, saw their claims publicly dismissed in print by a business rival, who told the Leader-Herald there were “no major deposits of uranium in the Sacandaga region.” Geologist John Bird of Schenectady had been hired by a Wyoming uranium-mining company to survey the area, and after thirty days, he had found uraninite only in “ridiculously small” quantities. » Continue Reading.
Under the newly formed Mohawk Mining Company (MMC), the trio of George McDonnell, Lewis Lavery, and Robert Zullo had high hopes of successfully developing uranium deposits they discovered near Batchellerville in Saratoga County. Plans were made for radiometric surveys of the sites, and they began pumping water from two feldspar quarries to examine the deeper rock for additional specimens. Tests were also planned on old piles of mine tailings that caused Geiger counters to react. » Continue Reading.
This past week, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled that the Old Mountain Road that runs through the public’s Sentinel Wilderness between Keene and North Elba remains a town road and is not abandoned by either town. The court thus overturned a decision by former Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens in 2016 and affirms an enforcement proceeding decision by former DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis in 2009.
It’s been a long, bumpy and controversial legal ride to this point. What is so perplexing about it is that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation could have prevented it from ever happening if the DEC had asserted certain legal authority it has been wary of asserting. In a few places where it’s obviously warranted, DEC should start to employ that legal authority again. » Continue Reading.
In thinking about the final decisions in early February by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on the recent Forest Preserve classification package, which included the Boreas Ponds, I took a look back at Forest Preserve acquisition and classification over the years. This led me to dig back and look at how the Forest Preserve has changed in the modern era of the Adirondack Park, a period of nearly 50 years.
I went back to 1970, to the technical reports of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks. The main Forest Preserve data is provided in the private and public lands set of reports. All of the Temporary Study Commission reports are important historical markers. » Continue Reading.
Many magazines, including Life (“The Uranium Rush”) and Popular Mechanics (“The ’49 Uranium Rush”) featured stories on the phenomenon that was sweeping the country. The coincidence of timing — the 100th anniversary of the 1849 California gold rush — made for enticing newspaper headlines as well. » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A barely-noticed provision in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget could have lasting consequences for the finances of Adirondack towns and school districts, or so some fear.
“I believe local governments will see this proposal as the cap on payments to their jurisdictions, something they have long feared as the state continues to acquire private land in the Adirondacks,” says Fred Monroe, the executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board. » Continue Reading.
News of a helicopter sightseeing tour operating out of Lake Placid spawned much discussion this past summer. Unlike a traditional scenic airplane flight high above the landscape, this business promised ridge-running flights at low altitudes above protected Wilderness Areas, as well as aerial safaris in which backcountry wildlife would be buzzed in their natural habitats — all for the thrill of a few paying customers.
This was scary enough for those of us who routinely visit the Forest Preserve for our weekly dose of wildness. But then in the September/October 2017 issue of the Adirondack Explorer, John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council suggested that in the Wild Forest areas, “it may be appropriate to fly in some places at lower heights” — with the stipulation that “some sensitive areas” should be avoided “as much as they can.” » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Basil Segos, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a petition to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) arguing against continued use by Iowa Pacific Holdings for rail operations and storage of oil tanker railcars on the 30-mile Sanford Lake Railway, which runs from North Creek to the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb. The State is requesting immediate action. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Park local government officials and conservation organizations both spent a nervous few hours after the polls closed on Election Day this year, worrying that Proposal Three – the community health and safety land bank – would be defeated. It passed by a slim 52 percent to 47 percent margin (about 100,000 votes out of 3.1 million cast).
As Adirondackers from across the political spectrum look towards working together in 2018 and beyond, there are important lessons to learn from this close vote. The park’s continued success depends on our understanding the state’s voters. » Continue Reading.
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