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Watch Out

By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO — December 20, 2002 – One person who has been fighting particularly hard against his town’s glut of tax-exempt properties is Town of Lumberland Supervisor John LiGreci.
While LiGreci has made some progress, there is only so much he can do, so on Wednesday, December 11, LiGreci met with county officials for help on the situation. Among those in attendance were Sullivan County Legislature Chair Leni Binder, Legislature Majority Leader Rodney Gaebel, County Attorney Ira Cohen, Sullivan County Real Property Tax Services Director Paul Burckard, and New York State Senator John Bonacic’s aide, Langdon Chapman (via telephone).
“I called the county for help with tax-exempt properties,” stated LiGreci. “It is not just a local issue. Every county has this problem.”
“We have been trying to address this since at least 1978,” Cohen commented. “The problem has been the way the courts have interpreted the law. It has been broadened to entitle [these organizations] to a degree that was never intended.”
Chapman asked the county to take the lead role in the effort against tax-exempt properties. The county will organize the effort and contact all other counties in the state to join. It is hoped that, with enough support, the State Legislature will enact new laws to eliminate some of the problems. The county’s resolution for this will be introduced at the Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, January 9, 2003.
“This is a bipartisan effort,” LiGreci said. “We will take this one step further. We want to make the hardships easier.”
All agreed it was a major issue and would continue their efforts until successful. New York State Assemblyman Jake Gunther has also pledged his support on this issue.

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