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District still trying to pay back county

October 11, 2012
By JOHN BORGOLINI , The Leader Herald

It's been more than two months since State Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi ruled the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District has to pay Fulton County the $1.66 million in back taxes the county paid to three area schools.

The regulating district is still trying to pay those taxes, which were supposed to be paid by Sept. 28.

At the district's September board meeting, the five downstream counties the district is now looking to tax had a grievance hearing, which will continue at the board's Nov. 7 meeting, while the county still waits for the money the regulating district doesn't have.

"We're unable to pay at this point," Executive Director Michael Clark said. " ... It's a problem, not of our making, that we have worked a couple of years now to resolve."

As the regulating district officials wait for the grievance hearings of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties to continue, Fulton County officials also wait - either for the hearings as well or for Judge Aulisi to take action.

Fulton County Attorney Arthur Spring said the county officials have some avenues to try, but they don't want to prolong the process.

"We can try to do some enforcement of a judgement, but right now we're trying to get some cooperation rather than resistance," Spring said. "There's some movement. Apparently, they hope to have some done in 45 days [from their last meeting]."

The regulating district sent Fulton County an appeal notice against paying back the taxes, but it hasn't enacted it. Spring said if HRBRRD does enact it, the appeal would basically stop any action on the repayments for a year.

Jon Stead, administrative officer and clerk of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, said everyone has been briefed on where the situation stands, but they're waiting for Judge Aulisi to take the next step.

Spring said the $1.66 million the county has paid was a bit of a setback, and he understands the district's problems.

The district is trying to find a new way to get revenue. The district lost its traditional source of revenue when a court ruled it could no longer tax downstream companies for the services the regulating district provides with flood control.

"Anytime you come up with a million bucks it's taking funds that we had reserved for something else," Spring said. "None of the counties are flush with reserve funds ... [And] the five downstream counties are liable.

"The question now is how to break up how each county will have to pay. I've been informed that they're relatively close to resolving that issue. And once they do, we'll be the first ones who are paid."



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