Taylor Rogers | Staff Writer
The season’s second and final Chautauqua Property Owners Association annual meeting addressed the county budget and what Darin Schulz, director of finance for Chautauqua County, referred to as the “tax cap myth.”
The meeting, which was held at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy, is an annual event for the association, with the agenda focused on nominating a member to the board of trustees and addressing community concerns.
The current property tax cap is at 2 percent, a rate Laura Damon, of the North Lake Informed Citizens, said is detrimental to Chautauqua County’s schools and has harmfully confined the county’s budget.
“The picture is not a pleasant one,” she said.
Damon introduced Schulz, who answered questions surrounding the county budget, state mandates and the tax cap and read off an in-depth report on the county’s long-term budget plans.
Of the services the county provides, 87 percent of them are mandated, Schulz said. The other 13 percent includes roadwork, the sheriff’s department, the veterans administration and an “office for the aging,” which could suffer as a result of the tax cap.
“That is the paradox,” he said. ”Where does the money come from? We can’t tax it.”
Though the cap is restricting, he called it a myth, saying overriding mechanisms do exist.
“I do believe that there will be some mitigation to those tax increases,” Schulz said, “but at this point, I cannot say what they will be, because we are limited.”
The county legislature can override the tax cap with a 60 percent vote. Schulz said because it does save taxpayers’ money, the tax cap is more of a way for the state legislature to save face with voters.
During the meeting, the association made the announcement for its annual nomination to the board of trustees. For the second time, CPOA chose Jennifer DeLancey.
Mark Powers, chief of the Chautauqua Fire Department, spoke briefly to attendees about the last-minute actions they should take before leaving the grounds. He encouraged homeowners to place house numbers outside of awnings and to submit a key to the police in case of an emergency in the off-season.
Hugh Butler, president of CPOA, and the audience then took time to thank Powers for his work and the efforts of his team during the July 21 power outage.
Butler also discussed both of the association’s initiatives. The Shared Space initiative, which is devoted to making traveling the grounds a more pleasant experience, and the outdoor lighting initiative, which aims to improve the aesthetics and environmental aspect of Chautauqua’s outdoor lighting, both will continue into next season.
Bill Neches, chair of the Outdoor Lighting Committee, said there will be a demonstration of appropriate lighting in front of Logan Dormitory in the fall.
To conclude the meeting, Butler referenced Japanese essayist Yoshida Kenko’s “Essays in Idleness,” which read, “The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty.”
“Our cherished uncertainty is full of growth potential,” Butler said, encouraging members and non-members to volunteer. “CPOA embraces the challenges and welcomes your help.”