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Non-residents pay taxes and should have a voice

June 7, 2012

Many letters from Town of Highland residents and non-resident property owners support Local Law 3 to outlaw fracking. Please recognize that, while non-resident property owners do not vote locally, our tax payments are very important to Highland.

Non-resident property owners at York Lake, Timber Lake, Highland Lake, Lake Devenoge, Washington Lake, Hillside and Pyne Ayre paid $1,640,632 in 2011 town and school taxes (source: We didn’t ask much in return. Our children don’t attend local schools. We do hire local contractors and patronize restaurants, stores and other local businesses.

Beaver Brook Rod & Gun Club also says it doesn’t ask much in return for paying taxes: “James Hanson states my final thoughts are we are a hunting club and ask nothing from the town from the taxes we pay.” (Source: April 10 town board meeting minutes.)

Beaver Brook Rod & Gun Club paid $9,120 in 2011 town and school taxes (reflecting its forestry exemption). Highland Field & Stream Club paid $37,071. Both clubs oppose Local Law 3. They don’t ask for many town services but they also don’t support the town’s tax base like other property owners do, whether resident or non-resident. The clubs say Law 3 takes away some property rights.

“No Taxation without Representation” is a right dating back to the American Revolution. Non-residents pay local taxes because it’s the law and because we love Highland’s beauty and the richness of its outdoor activities. We bought our property in 1987; my local roots go back to the Revolution (three ancestors died in the Battle of Minisink). Our taxes support services we don’t use, but we pay them willingly. In return, we hope our town board counts all the non-resident support of Local Law 3. Our point of view must be represented commensurate with the taxes we pay.

Rhett Austell
Barryville, NY and Villanova, PA