“Homeowners debate Truesdale Lake tax district”
By SEAN GORMAN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
November 25, 2007
“LEWISBORO – Like other lakes in the northern suburbs, Truesdale Lake is filling up with silt and weeds.
Two homeowner associations overseeing the lake have proposed a taxing district to raise more than $1 million to slow the 83-acre man-made lake’s progression toward swampland, but not all their neighbors are pleased with the plan. [continued at Journal News site or link below…]”
[Full text of article below since original was removed from LoHud site even for searches.]
Homeowners debate Truesdale Lake tax district
By SEAN GORMAN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: November 25, 2007)
LEWISBORO – Like other lakes in the northern suburbs, Truesdale Lake is filling up with silt and weeds.
Two homeowner associations overseeing the lake have proposed a taxing district to raise more than $1 million to slow the 83-acre man-made lake’s progression toward swampland, but not all their neighbors are pleased with the plan.
Some residents on Stewart and Lower Salem roads who live farther away from the lake say they don’t use Truesdale, and don’t see why they should be part of the district.
“I can’t see it. I can’t walk to it,” said Joseph Vnuczenski, 64, of Lower Salem Road. “I asked them, ‘Why don’t you pick a street down in Katonah and force them to pay?'”
The taxing district, supported by the boards of the Truesdale Estates and the Truesdale Lake Property Owners associations, would encompass about 300 homes, including ones on Truesdale Lake and Lake Shore drives, Gilbert Street and Indian Lane.
The associations say the district would tax homes that have rights to use the lake.
“What we’ve worked very hard to do is to keep the costs as low as humanly possible for every single family on the lake,” said David Sachs, president of the Truesdale Lake Property Owners Association. “We’ve had lengthy debates about the fairest possible way to pay for the work to be done.”
Vnuczenski said his deed doesn’t show he has lake rights, and he hasn’t been paying his lake dues because he doesn’t use Truesdale.
Sachs said homes farthest from the lake have rights to use it, and some property owners have touted those rights when selling their land.
Lewisboro town officials in July referred the issue to state officials, who have to sign off on the plan before there could be a referendum on creating the district.
The idea is to borrow money for the lake’s restoration and repay it over 30 years. The bond would pay for patching up the dam and a half-dozen projects around the lake geared to reducing sediment and nutrient runoff.
The lake has been getting shallower in some areas and, although it is still 50 to 100 years away from becoming swampland, it is fairly far along in filling itself in, said Robert Cummings of the Truesdale Estates group.
“If you wait another 10 or 15 years, you’re going to have a whole other set of problems,” Cummings said. “We’re trying to spend a dedicated amount of money now to avoid spending, perhaps, 10 times as much down the road.”
The lake committees have been discussing how a tax would be assessed, with the current proposal to levy it based on a home’s assessed value. The associations say their goal is to keep the average cost per homeowner to less than $300 a year.
Supporters say that if the lake degrades, so will property values. Tax district opponents argue that the homeowners who would benefit from the work, unlike them, live on the lake.
As for the argument that those who don’t use it shouldn’t pay for the work, Sachs noted all property owners pay school taxes, including those without children. He said the district would help preserve the natural beauty of a lake where residents go boating and swimming.
“It’s like a couple hundred dollars a year in a community where homes are selling for many hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Sachs said. “How can it not make sense to do that is my question.”
Denise Upham, a tax district opponent on Stewart Road, asked if someone would want to pay for a sewer or water system if their home wasn’t hooked into it.
“I can’t really even say I’ve been to the beach. Most people on our street are in that same category,” Upham said. “Now we feel that we have to spend money in order to find a lawyer to try and get rid of this whole thing. … We don’t want to be a part of it. Let us out of it.”
Given the concerns about the tax, Cummings has another idea: a tiered structure whereby people closest to the lake would pay more than those who live farther away.
It’s not clear when, or if, Albany officials would give the green light to creating the district.
Lewisboro officials haven’t taken a position on whether the district should be created, said Town Supervisor- elect Ed Brancati. If approved by Albany, Brancati said the opponents’ worries should be addressed.
“There should be something discussed or something worked out,” Brancati said.