What’s at stake?
Scenic Hudson the inclusion of language in the final NYS budget that addresses the following:
Conservation Easements as an Allowable Environmental Bond Act Expense
Conservation easements are perhaps the most affordable tool to achieve the state’s goal of protecting 30 percent of its open space by 2030. However, there has been some debate as to whether or not funds in the Bond Act can be used for conservation easements. Scenic Hudson supports the Governor’s proposed amendment to the state finance law in the Public Protection and General Government Article VII Legislation, Part X §51, 6-a, ii. The amendment adds conservation easements to the definition of “fixed assets”, confirming that conservation easements are in fact an allowable Bond Act expense. This action will act in good faith on the voters’ resounding support of the Bond Act, and further protect our state’s natural resources.
State Open Space Program Administration
Unlike virtually all other state and federal land acquisition programs, New York does not utilize private title insurance in its open space programs. In contrast, New York State undertakes its own review of land titles, sometimes going back one hundred years or more in an attempt to prove perfect title. This materially slows down transactions and open space conservation program implementation. Scenic Hudson calls on the Legislature for assistance in streamlining the state land acquisition process in their one-house budgets. We ask that you include legislation in your Senate and Assembly Budget Proposals that expressly authorizes the Real Property Bureau of the Office of Attorney General to use private title insurance, consistent with common real estate practice, as a means of achieving marketable title. Utilizing title insurance will improve and increase the pace of state land acquisition, providing communities statewide greater access to the benefits of land conservation.
Real Property Tax Law Section 532
Both Sojourner Truth State Park and Franny Reese State Park are owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. Since the formation of these parks, the lands that they encompass have been removed from their respective communities’ tax rolls. For the Town of Lloyd specifically, this host community has not received the tax benefits from the Franny Reese State Park property for almost 15 years. Most other New York State Parks owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission fall under Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) 532, which requires specific lands owned by and/or used by NYS to pay local property taxes. Throughout history, there have been many amendments to RPTL 532 to include the lands owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, so that the host communities receive property tax payments. Scenic Hudson supports amendments to RPTL 532 as part of the budget process that would add the current and future state park lands that are in the City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster (Sojourner Truth State Park) and the Town of Lloyd (Franny Reese State Park).