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REIMBURSEMENT PLAN SUPPORTED FOR TAX BREAK

Gov. Pataki's plan to reimburse local governments for property tax breaks on forest land has gained support from a diverse coalition of municipal officials, environmentalists and business groups that rarely agree.

In his budget proposal, Pataki has earmarked $3.3 million for reimbursements to local governments and school districts for revenue they lose from tax breaks on forest land. Those receiving the tax breaks typically get an 80 percent reduction in their tax bills, which depletes local coffers.

The coalition wrote to Pataki that tax breaks on the forest land are good for the environment and the economy, while conserving open space. They urged the Legislature to approve the plan.

The letter was signed by 18 organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the New York State Business Council and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages.

Pataki's plan would reimburse towns, villages and school districts in which the value of the forest land tax breaks exceeds more than 1 percent of the tax levy.

About 1.1 million acres, mostly in the Adirondacks and Catskills, are enrolled in two forest tax programs.

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