Tax refunds totaling about $194,000 would be owed by the Rome school district for two local business properties, according to proposed tax-reduction settlements pending before the Board of Education.
The proposals, to resolve legal challenges of property tax assessments by a shopping center in west Rome and by Bartell Machinery Systems in the Town of Lee, were reviewed by the school board’s finance committee on Monday.
Resolutions to be considered for approval are to be on the board’s Feb. 14 meeting agenda, said school district Director of Business and Finance David Dreidel.
In the proposals:
• School tax refunds totaling $99,571 for three tax years from 2016-17 through 2018-19 would be owed to Rome Shopping Center NY LLC for a property at 5817-23 Taberg Road in Rome. It involves a strip of businesses located just east of the Walmart store.
A judge “advised that he would likely determine the value of the property to be approximately in the middle of the appraisal reports” submitted by opposing sides in the legal case, said a Feb. 1 letter from attorney Katherine E. Gavett to school district Treasurer Nicholas Panuccio. Based on that, a settlement proposal was negotiated, said Gavett, who is with the Ferrara Fiorenza PC law firm that represents the school district.
The property’s assessment for the three tax years was about $1.9 million per year. Appraisal values submitted by the opposing sides in the case ranged from about $643,000-$647,000 in the petition challenging the assessment to about $1.19 million in the response to the challenge. The settlement proposal for the three years is for $898,200 in 2016-17, and declining to $893,400 and $788,040 in the next two respective years.
“The City of Rome is in support of the settlement proposal, and the court has recommended the proposal to the parties,” said Gavett’s letter which recommended school board approval.
• For the Bartell Machinery Systems property at 6321 Elmer Hill Road in Lee, school tax refunds totaling $94,566 would be owed regarding the 2016-17 and 2017-18 tax years; the calculations reflect refunds under terms of an existing PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement, said a Jan. 17 letter from Gavett to Dreidel. The assessment challenge is under a Rome Properties LLC name.
Legal challenges of assessments are currently pending for four tax years, from 2014-15 through 2017-18, said Gavett.
The property’s assessment of $169,775 equates to a fair market value of about $5 million, the letter added; that is based on Lee assessing properties at slightly over 3 percent of full value.
After extensive negotiations, “the petitioner has offered to discontinue the 2014 and 2015 proceedings in exchange for a reduction in the assessment for the 2016 and 2017 tax years to $100,560,” Gavett said. That would equate to a fair market value of about $3 million, her letter added.
If the school district rejects the proposed settlement, it likely would incur additional legal costs and “potential of significantly greater school tax refunds,” said Gavett. The Town of Lee is agreement with the proposal, her letter added.
For the two cases overall, reduced property assessments would result in lower tax payments for them going forward, and the district would make up for that tax revenue by redistributing among assessments for the district’s other taxpayers, said Dreidel.