Supervisors oppose Cuomo proposals

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday overwhelmingly opposed two Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposals regarding taxation of state forest preserve lands.

The board voted at the County Office Building to oppose a Cuomo proposal contained in the 2018 state budget review bill. The law regarding taxation of state forest preserve land would go from a current, locally-assessed system to a Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT system, administered and controlled solely by New York state.

The proposal changes local assessment of such land in the Adirondacks and Catskills from the current locally-assessed system to a PILOT method capped at 2 percent per year, or the increase in the level of assessment by means of an allowable levy growth factor, whichever is lower.

“This method will be centrally controlled by the state, and be based upon a formula, rather than increases or decreases in the actual market value of the lands as the current methodology,” the resolution says. “This proposal will result in the loss of revenue by the local municipalities and will shift the tax burden to local taxpayers.”

Recent state land purchases in the Adirondacks has increased state ownership to more than 2.6 million acres of the six million-acre Adirondack Park. The state controls an additional 800,000 acres by state conservation easements purchased the last 40 years.

The board also formally opposed another Cuomo proposal to amend laws regarding forest exemption, and add an additional, new 480-B taxation of forest land exemption under a Forest Practice Program or Forest Certification Program known as the “Empire Forests for the Future Initiative.”

This proposal reduces the eligible tract from the current 50 acres of forest land to 25 acres of forest land or other spaces. The proposal grants a 70 percent reduction of the assessed value on eligible land under the Forest Certification Program, and a 40 percent reduction of the assessed value on eligible land under the Forest Management Practice Plan.

“The proposal has the potential to dramatically reduce the taxable value of the local taxing jurisdictions,” the resolution indicated.

Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Gregory Young was the only no vote, electing not to oppose the proposal. He said the more he learned about the proposal, the more he liked it. He said it is supported by business groups such as the farm bureau.

“I have to stand with small businesses in not opposing this measure,” Young said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Kerry Minor

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