Guilderland to offer tax breaks for land conservation
Melissa Hale-Spencer is reporting for The Altamont Enterprise Guilderland is looking to follow the lead of its neighbor, Bethlehem, in giving tax breaks to residents who commit to leaving their land open. The town board will hold a hearing on the local law on March 15. “We want to make sure we have as many tools as possible to preserve open space ...,” Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber said. He told the town board last week that Guilderland is the third or fourth municipality in New York to get this legislation. He noted that the local law, once passed, would apply just to town tax breaks, not to county or school taxes; school taxes are the most significant. Once the law is adopted Guilderland's five school districts will be asked to provide the same tax relief. “But they don’t have to,... It’s going to take a little bit of effort to reach out to these school districts and get them to understand the importance of the open space,” he said. Guilderland’s bill includes four levels of commitment, each with a different percentage of tax exemption; the longer the time commitment to keeping the land open, the greater the tax break, from a 50 percent tax break for a commitment of 15 to 29 years to a 90 percent tax break for a perpetual commitment. Some believe the proposal would shift the tax burden to other residents, but Barber asserted, “It is not." He said this is because land values typically increase. Board member Laurel Bohl said, “This is a great plan that could help a lot of residents and lower your tax bill.” Read the full story in The Altamont Enterprise.