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Land tax freeze remains in place

"If you own land, then you need to pay your taxes," stated Essex Supervisor Ron Jackson. "If you can't pay the taxes, then maybe you shouldn't own the land."

"It just makes no logical sense whatsoever. They're buying property that they can't maintain," said Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. "It's gotten to the point where it's out of control."

Preston said that the loss would be significant in Wilmington where the average property assessment is expected to rise by as much as 10 percent in the next year. State land accounts for 27 percent of the town's total assessed value.

At present, the state owns just over 3 million of the 6 million-acre Adirondack Park. Nearly all of that land is considered forest preserve, which, according to the state constitution, cannot be logged, leased, or developed.

Paterson's proposed 2009 state budget has $205 million earmarked for the Environmental Protection Fund, which is mostly used for further land acquisition and preservation. Though the fund is taking a 19 percent cut from last year's budget, some say more of it should be appropriated elsewhere.

"They certainly could use some of that money to pay the same taxes that everybody else does," Jackson said.

"This issue highlights the contradictory nature of current state policy," said Little in a recent phone interview. "Enough is enough - the state needs to allow growth and needs to pay their share of taxes to the local governments."

Reporters Jonathan Alexander and Thom Randall contributed to this article.

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