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Millions Of Dollars
Hanging In the Balance

By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO — November 26, 2002 – Over the last several years, the Town of Lumberland has been waging a battle over assessments. The Mirant Energy Company has been seeking to have their assessment lowered from $49 million to $9 million, which would have a huge impact on taxes to the town, school (Eldred), and the county. The assessment years under contention are from 1999 to 2002.
The town has been locked in litigation with Mirant for the last four years. The attorney representing the town in the litigation, Walter Garigliano, approached the county for assistance. The matter was discussed at the Sullivan County Legislature’s Real Property Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 12.
“It is a tough situation,” Garigliano told the committee. “The impact on the town and school tax base is devastating. We need the county’s position before we approach the school.”
“It is in our interest to intervene,” commented County Attorney Ira Cohen. “If the assessment is reduced, it will cost the county $1 million, the town $1 million, and the school $2 million. The tax bill breaks down to the county at 22 percent, the school at 52 or 53 percent, and the town at 25 or 26 percent. We have to see how to break it down and pay the litigation. The school wants each party to pay a third. It’s a policy decision.”
That sparked a debate among legislators about splitting costs. Due to financial concerns, lawmakers are very cautious with their spending these days.
“In the past, we did a third, a third, and a third,” remarked District 1 Legislator Chris Cunningham. “Do we want to change what was done in the past?”
“We do not have deep pockets, nor are we the town’s parents,” District 5 Legislator Rodney Gaebel stated. “Is it okay to take on more than our liability? I’m not sure I can support that.”
“I want to meet with [Committee Chair Jim Carnell Jr.], Ira, and the town to discuss this,” District 2 Legislator Kathleen LaBuda said. LaBuda represents Lumberland as part of her district. “I will set up the meeting. I want to give them an opportunity to explain.”
It was decided that two resolutions would go before the full Board on Thursday, November 14. One resolution would be for the 25 percent, the other for 33 percent. After some discussion at that meeting, it was decided the county would pay 25 percent, and it was suggested that the local library and fire districts pay as well.
“It is a burden that will affect everyone,” Lumberland Supervisor John LiGreci stated after the meeting. “Any help is welcome and appreciated. It is a pleasant surprise that the county is there to help when we need it. The school will kick in additional help.”

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