"We pay taxes to the town of New Scotland on the water plant and they purchase water from us," he said. "New Scotland sets up special water districts and charges their residents for access to the water supply."
Although municipalities can request exemptions on real property tax outside of their borders for water and wastewater treatment plants if the respective municipalities agree to them, both New Scotland Supervisor Tom Dolin and
Cunningham said they were unaware of the tax exemption, and Cunningham said he didn't believe one had been filed.
According to Section 406(3) of the state's Office of Real Property Services exemption manual this can include "either a total or a partial exemption from taxation, special ad valorem levies and special assessments."
The section states the eligibility requirements in this case include that the municipality own the facility; it be outside its borders; it's a county, city, town or village with a population of less than 100,000; and it be used a water plant, pumping station, water treatment plant, watershed, or reservoir and include necessary connection and appurtenances.
"I'm sure someone has thought of this before, but I'll certainly look into it," Cunningham said of Section 406(3) eligibility. In a later conversation, Cunningham said the problem with the state exemption was that it had to be agreed on by the municipality that would lose out on the tax revenue.
According to the state exemption, Bethlehem could apply to New Scotland, Albany County and the Voorheesville School District for a tax break on the property.
"It's kind of a Pandora's Box because Albany County owns so many properties here in Bethlehem," Cunningham said. "If everyone started exempting each other the whole thing would start to unravel."
Bethlehem does not pay taxes on Wickham's Selkirk home at the park because it is tax exempt from the school district, town and county. The home is described on the Bethlehem assessment Web site as an 840-square-foot single-family ranch worth $116,400, which was built in 1940. The riverfront property it sits on is assessed at $75,700.