Michigan group questions tax district

A Michigan-based group is on the record in opposition of new taxes from a Chautauqua Lake taxing district.

Freshwater Future, based on Petoskey, Mich., is an organization that works to protect and restore the health of the Great Lakes. In addition to the Great Lakes, the organization focuses on inland lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater in the Great Lakes region.

Jill Ryan, Freshwater Future executive director, said this week that too few residents of the Chautauqua Lake watershed have been included in public input for a proposed taxing district, including criticism of a survey for resident input on the new tax being sent only to lakefront and lakefront access property owners. Ryan was also critical of the lack of a long-term plan for how to use the proposed new tax revenue to return the lake to health and the lack of an update to the last Chautauqua Lake implementation strategy. That strategy was for 2018-2022, no updated version.

“Without clear goals to reduce the nutrient pollution that helps feed aquatic plant growth, address the internal cycling of nutrients from weed harvesting, and plans to monitor the effectiveness of management strategies I can see no reason for additional revenue,” Ryan said.

The Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency meeting will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday in the legislative chambers in the Gerace Office Building, 3 N. Erie St., Mayville. Those interested in viewing the meeting can view the meeting on the county’s YouTube page.

Agency board members could approve a taxing district after roughly two years of discussions, surveys and public meetings. In early December, Barton & Loguidice proposed a three-tier tax level. Tier 1 would be landowners who have lakefront property; Tier 2 would be landowners who have access to Chautauqua Lake but not lakefront property; and Tier 3 would be all landowners who live in the Chautauqua Lake watershed. The Chautauqua Lake watershed includes some or all properties in the towns of Ellery, Ellicott, Busti, Harmony, North Harmony, Sherman, Chautauqua, and Stockton.

At that Dec. 1, meeting, Barton & Loguidice representatives said if the county were trying to collect $10 million in taxes for the lake, an average residence with 2,000 feet of impervious cover in a Tier 1 would pay $458.

Continuing with the $10 million goal in tax collection, residential properties in Tier 2 could pay on average $451 annually and residential properties in Tier 3 could pay $194.

Commercial properties could be three times higher, depending on the amount of impervious cover they have.


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