UPDATE 1/20/23: Freshwater Future was pleased to see so many interested residents attend the meeting and to see the elected officials respond to their concerns by squashing this proposal. Thank you so much to those who attended the meeting, provided comments, and spoke about your views on the plan. As always, community voices are the key to healthy, sustainable communities. We will continue monitoring the plans and keep you posted with any developments.
The fate of a new taxing district and tax fund to address lake issues that includes watershed residents (see map above) will be recommended at a January 19 meeting at 5:00 pm in Mayville. There is no clear plan for how the new tax revenue would be used.
Chautauqua Lake Protection & Rehabilitation Agency,
I am writing to ask you to pause the process for the proposed new tax district to increase revenue for lake and watershed projects. More needs to be done to engage the community and provide additional opportunities for feedback. Please do not recommend the tax district to the Chautauqua County Legislature.
Pursuing how to raise new tax funds to improve the lake without having goals and details about how the funding would be used and make a difference and the benefits to taxpayers, is putting the cart before the horse.
Specifically, please provide answers to the following questions:
Why weren’t the watershed residents (Tier 3) invited to fill out the survey about the proposed tax district?
How will different sectors in the proposed district be taxed (e.g., agricultural lands, business, residential)?
How much current funding from government and grants is directed annually to Chautauqua Lake management activities?
Why are additional funds needed for lake and watershed management activities?
How will Tier 3 residents and property owners tangibly benefit from the projects?
How will the proposed projects reduce the primary sources of nutrient pollution documented in the studies (internal nutrient cycling, agricultural runoff, wastewater/septic inputs, etc.)improve the water quality of Chautauqua Lake, recognizing it is a eutrophic lake?
Your Name, Address
Background and History
Human activities have degraded the health of Chautauqua Lake since the 1840s, soon after European settlement. In fact, historical records from 1896 describe the excessive aquatic plant growth as “jungle-thick weeds that ensnarl boats…and make swimming impossible.” Over 100 years later, nutrient pollution and extensive management activities have made negligible progress to improve the health of the Lake and its ecosystem.
A new taxing district and tax fund to address lake issues is being recommended by the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency. Information about a survey for resident input on this new tax was only sent to lakefront and lakefront access property owners, even though there is currently a recommendation to be voted on in January to tax property owners throughout the watershed (outlined in red in the diagram). While there is no clear long-term plan for how to use the proposed new tax revenue to return the lake to health, the Agency will vote on whether to recommend the new tax to the legislature on January 19 at 5:00 PM.
An extensive amount of scientific studies and management plans have been developed over the last two decades. Yet the last Chautauqua Lake implementation strategy was for 2018-2022; an updated version has yet to be located online.
The Chautauqua County Legislature is putting the cart before the horse by pursuing how to raise new tax funds to improve the lake without having goals and details about how the funding would be used and make a difference and the benefits to taxpayers.
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, there is no need for additional revenue.