Recently, the town of Webster published a new townwide map called “Preserved Lands in the Town of Webster.” The map shows six different categories of preserved lands that Webster has: Village Well Fields, 43.43 acres; purchased development rights, 438.09 acres; Monroe County Park, 540.34 acres; tax incentive open space, 682.54 acres; park districts lands, 395.26 acres; town-owned parkland/open space, 1,030.19 acres; total equals 3,129.85 acres currently preserved.
The town has hung these new maps inside the Town Hall and the Town Board Meeting Room inside the Justice Courts building. In May, we will publish the map in the Town Times for all residents to look at.
Open space is always a hot topic, and I wanted to make our residents aware of exactly what your Town Board has done over the past 20 years to preserve lands in Webster for future generations. I often hear that the Town Board is not saving enough green space, but you cannot make that statement unless you understand how much the town of Webster already has.
More lands than not are currently being offered for sale in Webster for one very simple reason and that is the $40.56 per thousand combined tax rate amongst the Webster Town Board, Webster Central School District and Monroe County. This tax rate is up exactly $1 per thousand over last year or up $191 on the average assessed home in the town of Webster. Last year, the town of Webster went up 6 cents per thousand, Monroe County went up 46 cents per thousand and the Webster School District went up 48 cents per thousand which equals your $1 per thousand increases on your tax bill for 2019.
Now the reason open space owners are selling their lands is the very simple fact they cannot afford to pay $40.56 per thousand assessed on land just sitting there for others to look at and enjoy. How many of us could afford to pay a tax bill each year on land that is just sitting there? I for one could not do that along with my other monthly commitments, could you?
Please do not fool yourselves into thinking that a new Comprehensive Plan is going to save green space in town. If someone feels they cannot afford their land, no Comprehensive Plan is going to stop them from selling regardless of the zoning, etc., because if you cannot afford it, you cannot afford it. How many are going to disagree with the fact that the three combined tax rates in the town of Webster are just too high for the average homeowner and anyone who owns open space in town?
The only way Webster can again save a lot of green space is to again bond up to $5 million to purchase what available lands we could purchase at a discounted land value rate and also raise town taxes in doing so.
For example, the former Webster Lumber yard has 70 acres of land for sale. I have called, and they want $4.9 million for the property. So my question to the Webster community is are you willing to bond and raise taxes in town to own this piece of land?
The town of Webster will continue to seek and obtain open space like we did this year with the no-cost acquisition of North Ponds Park from New York state and the 80 acres of open space given to the town at Salt Road and State Road by a developer in that area. We will also continue to use cluster development as a tool to bring extra parklands to developments in town as they are developed for the enjoyment of residents living in that subdivision.
The town of Webster has a direct link to the open space map on the website. The link is ci.webster.ny.us/546/Town-Open-Space.
As always, if you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us.