Chautauqua Lake Tax Failure Leaves More Questions Than Answers

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MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – After five years of formal discussions, leaders in Chautauqua County are back to the drawing board after failing to secure a reliable funding source to help manage Chautauqua Lake’s health. 

Last week, the Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency shot down a proposal that would have recommended the creation of a new lake district, which could have created a tax to help secure funding for management efforts, like cutting lake weeds and combating harmful algal blooms. 

Chautauqua Town Supervisor Don Emhardt proposed the motion to scrap the recommendation, believing it would not pass a formal vote within Chautauqua County’s legislature. This presents a new problem however, where funding for lake stabilization would come from. 

“Being on the Lake Alliance also, I realized we needed about $3.5 million dollars a year,“ explained Emhardt. “Maybe somebody else can come up with a better idea on where this $3.5 million dollars is gonna come from. This wasn’t going to pass so, it’s a good time to say enough is enough.” 

While the advisory committee has been dissolved, ideas remain. 

“A fee for boat users,“ stated Deputy Supervisor of North Harmony Louise Ortman. “People that are going to put their boats in the waters that we’re working to protect and to keep nice. They’re going to pay a fee to register their boat. Just like my husband does when he goes up north with his snowmobile.”   

One thing is apparent: something must be done.

“Since I became a Legislator, I have became much more concerned about what was going on, and not going on in the lake,“ explained Agency Chair and County Legislative Chairman, Pierre Chagnon. “My two towns border the lake, and the continual frustration from people not being able to do as much as they needed to do, the Chautauqua Lake Association is a perfect example of that. And the frustration of the property owners about the condition of the lake, they wanted more done.      

As for what comes next for lake protection, that is uncertain.

“What’s next,“ said Chagnon. “I will report to the Legislature that the Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agencies recommendation is to not create a district.”   

While there was no countywide district formed to raise funding, municipalities around the lakefront do have the authority to create their own individual Lake Protection and Rehabilitation districts.


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