Elma officials are thinking green - and it will save property owners money for decades to come.
The Town Board voted this week to give property owners of green space a break on their taxes in exchange for not developing their land for a certain number of years.
Property owners who agree to keep land undeveloped for 50 to 75 years will get an 85 percent break in taxes; those willing to do so for 14 to 24 years will see a 50 percent cut; and those who lock in for 30 to 49 years will see a 75 percent break.
A permanent agreement takes 95 off property taxes.
The town would have the final approval of tax exemptions and easements.
Councilman James Malczewski wants as much green space locked up as possible at no cost to the taxpayers. He said 37 percent of Elma is green space but it is shrinking yearly.
In addition to the tax exemptions, the Town Board approved a separate dedicated fund to be used at the discretion of the board to be created from a $175 fee on residential, commercial and industrial new builds. This fund will be tapped only if necessary. Councilman Michael Nolan called the program "bureaucracy at its best."
The town had approvals from the Erie County Legislature and the state but needed the nod from the Iroquois School District to finalize the process.
The obstacle was that Iroquois comprises six separate towns. Only Elma taxpayers will be affected by the plan.
In other matters this week:
. The board learned that the Water Department has had to deal with four water main breaks throughout the town in recent days, including a small one caused by the contractor working on the Elderberry-Geyer project. Two others were on Clinton Street and one on Bullis Road.
. An informational meeting will be held in the Senior Center at 6:30 p.m. Monday regarding issues associated with Bullis Road.
. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, a special budget meeting will be held in Town Hall and will include an update from grant writer Connie Minor.
At 7, the public will be invited to stay on for a meet-and-greet with Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard.