JOHNSTOWN - A Fulton County Board of Supervisors committee has endorsed efforts by the nonprofit Sacandaga Protection Committee to lobby federal legislators to help find a solution to the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's revenue problems.
The Economic Development Committee action Tuesday would be subject to approval by the full board March 14.
Sacandaga Protection Committee Co-Chairman Joseph Sullivan told supervisors his organization is trying to get three congressmen - U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam; U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook; and U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh - to intervene in regulating district issues.
Sacandaga Protection Committee Co-Chairman Joseph Sullivan speaks to the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development Committee on Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
The regulating district is a public authority that regulates the Great Sacandaga Lake and owns property around it. The regulating district has failed to pay the taxes because a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling stated the district no longer could charge fees to downstream hydropower companies.
Sullivan said the ruling has hampered the regulating district's ability to pay its taxes.
He said the resolution to the problem "should be a federal solution and it should come from Washington."
The regulating district owes the Northville school district $326,000 and the Broadalbin-Perth school district $256,000 from the 2009-10 school year.
Mayfield school officials say the regulating district will owe their district about $700,000 in taxes after the 2010-11 school year.
The regulating district also owes Fulton County $677,000 in taxes for 2009 and 2010.
The Board of Supervisors in November hired the Albany law firm of Murphy, Burns, Barber and Murphy in case the county wants to take legal action to compel the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District to pay the taxes.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said today the firm is expected to file a notice of claim - a precursor to a lawsuit - this week if the regulating district fails to pay the taxes.
Sullivan said taxpayers in Fulton and Saratoga counties shouldn't be burdened by the regulating district's revenue problems.
"We are optimistic [the congressmen] have a solution," he said. "Right now, we're just looking for a little help. This is the only reservoir in the country where the land under the water is taxed."
Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Linda Kemper reminded Sullivan the county may end up taking legal action against the regulating district, but Sullivan said that may become moot.
"We want to have something definitive in the next 30 days," Sullivan said. "We're going to get something introduced in the [U.S. House of Representatives] and cross the next hurdle."
Michael Anich can be reached at email@example.com.