Otsego Board of Representatives Weighs Opposition to State Budget Rules

Otsego Board of Reps Weighs
Opposition to State Budget Rules


Last Wednesday, the Otsego County Board of Representatives heard concerns from three area residents about the threats to home rule posed by Part N of the Article VII Executive Revenue Bill contained in Governor Kathy Hochul’s Budget Proposal.

Dan Sullivan of Richfield, Nathan Seamon of Columbia in nearby Herkimer County, and Keith Schue of Cherry Valley all urged the county representatives to oppose Part N.

Essentially, Part N—which is opposed by the New York Association of Counties—removes the right of municipalities to assess taxes for large scale solar, wind and battery storage projects that locate within their boundaries. Instead, the assessment power is given to the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to adopt a model that is currently being challenged in court. And, it backdates this authority to 2021.

In his remarks to the County Board, Nate Seamon, who heads a grass-roots group called Protect Columbia, pointed out the erosion of the principle of home rule going back to 2019.

“94-c, and now Part N, are directly aimed at dismantling local communities’ authority to govern themselves. This appears to go against Article IX of the state Constitution, which enshrines home Rule,” he stated.

94c refers to an executive law that bypasses local zoning and land-use regulations for large-scale renewable projects if the local laws are deemed to be “burdensome” by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting.

Keith Schue, an engineer by profession who has been involved in state energy policy for many years, echoed and amplified Seamon’s comments.

“The Part N provision…perpetuates the attack on home rule. First you had Article X, then 94-c pushed by Cuomo, which basically made it impossible for communities to affect these projects,” Schue said. “And now we have a state-mandated appraisal model which is another gift to the solar/wind lobby—one that prevents local governments and school districts from receiving adequate revenue for the projects they are forced to host.

“Part N takes that even further, making it impossible to even question or challenge the new model being mandated, and denying due process to communities,” emphasized Schue.

For its part, the Board of Representatives responded quickly to the comments, voting unanimously to authorize Chairperson David Bliss to sign and send a letter of opposition to the Governor. An attempt to pass an accompanying resolution of opposition was temporarily tabled, as more time was needed to craft the language.

Dan Sullivan is the supervisor of the Town of Richfield.

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