Tax certiorari litigation a win

ECS budget flush with increased tax assessments

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 2/25/21

ELDRED, NY — Both district treasurer Caleb Russell and superintendent Dr. John Morgano are pleased that the compressor station tax assessment has been reduced by $24 million.

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Tax certiorari litigation a win

ECS budget flush with increased tax assessments

Posted

ELDRED, NY — Both district treasurer Caleb Russell and superintendent Dr. John Morgano are pleased that the compressor station tax assessment has been reduced by $24 million.

Originally assessed at $86,326,200 million, the Millennium Pipeline LLC had requested last fall that the assessment be lowered to $30 million. Through a tax certiorari litigation settlement that was announced on February 9 at the Highland Town Board, the assessment will be at $62 million. It will be held at that rate for four additional years, at which time parties can negotiate.

“The construction of the facility was $66 million, so the $62 million assessment makes sense,” Russell said in an interview following the February 17 Eldred Central School Board of Education Zoom meeting, where the settlement was discussed. He said that, through the litigation process, the company had agreed to $55 million, which the County of Sullivan, the Town of Highland and the school district rejected. The offer and settlement of $62 million seemed like a reasonable one to avoid going to court, he said. 

The school district, which has a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30, received full property taxes for two years at the assessment rate of $86 million. This has been a huge boon to the historically financially struggling school. While the new assessment began January 1, 2021, full taxes were paid to the Town of Highland, and no refund was requested for school taxes paid last year. The new rate will be reflected in the July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 district year. The new rate reflects a reduction of approximately $375,000.

Russell said that the district had been conservative this year and had budgeted for an assessment of approximately $50 million. The district had also prepared for the possible refund in its 2020-21 budget by creating a $350,000 Tax Certiorari Reserve, which it will now not have to give to the company. Morgano expressed delight with the prospect that those monies, both what will be surplus in the budget as well as the reserve funds, can be spent “as close to the kids as possible.”

The school is planning to offer summer school to grades one through 12 this summer.

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