I was pleased to learn that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is seriously considering the sale of its 400 acres of waterfront property.
It is encouraging that the NFTA seems to be departing from its practice of acquiring non-transportation-related property. The NFTA was created to provide vital transportation services for Western New York. Any deviation in the NFTA's intended purpose hurts all Western New Yorkers who depend on public transit on a daily basis.
Non-transportation-related activities of the NFTA have been of great concern for local governments. The NFTA benefits by its tax-exempt status while local governments continue to lose valuable (and taxable) property. In the end, it is the local taxpayers who are forced to pay increased real property taxes.
In an attempt to solve this inequity, I have sponsored legislation that would require the NFTA to make annual payments in lieu of taxes to the participating municipalities (i.e., county, city, town, school district, etc.) for property acquired or subsequently used for non-transportation purposes.
Entities such as the NFTA that receive municipal services should be required to help pay for them and thereby ease the burden placed on non-exempt property. If the NFTA chooses to involve itself in non-transportation-related activities, my legislation will ensure that they contribute to the tax base of the affected communities.
PAUL A. TOKASZ
Member of Assembly