MAYVILLE – Residents who want to voice what is the best way to fund Chautauqua Lake’s protection will soon get a chance.
The Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency will hold a public information meeting Wednesday at 5 pm at the legislative chambers in the Gerace Office Building, 3 N. Main St., Mayville. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook.
Officials say this meeting will cover the current status of the study of funding mechanisms for Chautauqua Lake protection and rehabilitation, Phase I and discuss the project process.
This is the second public information meeting. The last one took place in July. There was also a meeting in June where representatives from Barton & Loguidice discussed their findings.
At the July meeting, Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development and chief executive officer of the county’s Industrial Development Agency, noted that in 2021 a survey went out asking residents about their feelings for funding lake protection. “We were presently surprised when over 60% of the respondents said ‘yes, we’re in favor of something that creates a steady flow of funding that goes into the lake and the watershed’ so that really encouraged us to keep moving forward,” he said.
Earlier this year, the firm Barton & Loguidice was hired to do a study and examining funding options. Jayme Breschard, a senior managing community planner with the company, went over different ways to generate taxes or fees. During her July presentation, she shared four possible ways to get funding: Near-Lake District Tax, Watershed / Drainage District Tax, User Impact Fee, and Boat User Fee.
NEAR-LAKE DISTRICT – This would be a district that has parcels that have access to the lake or the shorelines. There are 2,522 parcels with lake frontage and 6,651 parcels with lake access.
WATERSHED / DRAINAGE DISTRICT – This would be a district that would cover multiple municipalities that when it rains, the water eventually drains into Chautauqua Lake. There are between 37,183 to 37,201 parcels. Some of those are non-profit parcels which can’t be taxed.
USER IMPACT FEE – This would be setting up a district like the watershed / drainage district but it would also include all tax-exempt properties.
BOAT USER FEE – This proposal would charge all boaters a fee in order to use the lake. Ranges could include only boats with motors or it could include non-motorized boats, including kayaks and canoes. With motorboats, the larger the horsepower, the larger the fee.
During the July meeting, attendees were invited to share other options for revenue. Some suggested a countywide tax and others wanted to see the occupancy tax go solely to the lake. Breschard said state and federal revenue would continue to be pursued as well.
The goals of the funds collected had a variety of options including:
¯ Protect public health.
¯ Conduct in-lake rehabilitation activities and services.
¯ Provide an equitable and sustainable funding source for in-lake rehabilitation.
¯ Ensure long-term economic prosperity for Chautauqua Lake and the region,
¯ Maintain water quality for drinking and recreation.
¯ Protect the in-lake user experience for property owners, boaters and anglers.
¯ Protect property values.
¯ Protect the health of aquatic ecosystems.
¯ Monitor / measure rehabilitation activities to continuously improve effectiveness.
During the July meeting, attendees were invited to vote on lake funding priorities as well as their preference of the four options for taxes and fees. Pierre Chagnon, who chairs the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency, said the August meeting will mirror the July meeting, inviting attendees to share their thoughts through surveys. The surveys will be electronic and residents will be able to participate virtually. Those who are doing the survey virtually are recommended to have a second device. Those who attend the August meeting in person are asked to bring a cell phone that would allow them to take the surveys electronically.
Breschard emphasized during the July meeting that no final decisions have been made; they were simply presenting a range of options to see what residents prefer and oppose.