ALBANY — Members of citizen advisory panels for the Adirondack and Catskill parks oppose a plan in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget that would implement a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan.
Under the budget plan, according to a news release from the Adirondack Council, the state’s obligation to pay full taxes to towns, counties and school districts on “forever wild” state lands would be replaced by PILOTs.
“Every year, Adirondack and Catskill towns should be able to count on the state paying its full and fair share of taxes on lands we all benefit from as ‘forever wild,'" said David Gibson, of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. "This PILOT proposal from the governor's Division of the Budget is sending a message to those towns that they cannot count on them or the state to fulfill its commitments.”
Local governments would lose their right to assess the value of state property within their borders, according to the release. Instead, the state would impose a formula to determine how much it pays each year. The proposed formula would cap annual increases at 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
“We love recycling, but this bad idea belongs in the trash bin,” said William C. Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council. “Govs. George Pataki and David Paterson proposed similar cost-cutting plans. Both eventually realized that the Forest Preserve is a priceless asset that deserves the state’s financial support. The Forest Preserve protects the purity of most of the state’s major rivers and boosts the economy by luring millions of visitors per year. It deserves the state’s full financial support.”
To oppose the measure, members of the state Forest Preserve Advisory Committee and Catskill Park Advisory Committee have created the “Forever Taxable” coalition, according to the release. Both groups advise state officials on management of the Forest Preserve. Both passed resolutions opposing the PILOT plan.