CCCD lauds defeat of state land tax plan

Arkville — After months of grassroots organizing and negotiations, Catskill Moun-tain communities located on State Forest Preserve lands can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to state property tax payments on state lands.
On April 2, the NYS Senate passed the “Public Protection and General Government” budget bill, eliminating a proposal by Governor Paterson to freeze state property tax payments at 2008 rates on state lands, including the Catskill Park. The proposal also died in the Assembly. On March 30 the governor issued a press release in which he signaled his agreement to eliminate the proposal that found great opposition throughout the Catskills and Adirondacks. The savings to the state in the first year of the freeze, $8.5 million, would have become the responsibility of local municipalities and counties, with costs escalating annually.
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Devel-opment led the regional charge against the proposal, arguing it would place an undue tax burden on already strapped Catskill home and business owners and, in essence, halt any future open space initiatives. Joining The Catskill Center in its efforts were regional elected officials, business leaders and not-for-profits, including the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, the Catskill Landowners Association and the Catskill Forest Association.
“The Catskill Center applauds Governor Paterson and the NYS legislature for protecting our Catskill communities by stripping the proposed tax freeze from the budget,” said Lisa Rainwater, executive director of The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development.