JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County is putting to use a new policy to assist cities and towns legally fighting assessment reduction claims that ultimately can affect the county.
The Board of Supervisors recently authorized county participation in the legal defense of three municipalities regarding a total of $8.2 million in certain assessment reduction actions proposed within their local assessing units.
"This lays out three different ones," said county Administrative Officer Jon Stead.
The board last September established a policy for participating in the legal defense of real property tax assessments. County officials feel the lower governments sometimes don't have the financial resources to mount such challenges on their own. Under the new policy, the county will consider participation in the defense of challenges to lower governments' assessments under the following conditions:
The legal challenge is made to an assessment for a tax parcel or the combination of tax parcels with an aggregate full market value of $500,000 or more.
Taxing jurisdictions other than the county with interests in the challenged assessment participate meaningfully in the legal defense of the assessment.
The county's participation does not exceed an amount or to an extent that represents its proportional interest as reflected by the full-value tax rate.
The board determines participation is in the best interests of the county and affirmatively acts by resolution to participate.
With the resolution, county Treasurer Terry Blodgett recommended county participation is in the best interests of the county. The county approved participation in an assessment challenge involving the Johnstown Industrial Park. The city requested assistance to fight a proposed assessment reduction from $4.7 million to $1.9 million for these parcels: 6 Clermont St., 123 Union Ave., Union Avenue (vacant parcel), 190 Enterprise Road and 199 Enterprise Road.
The county will also participate in the town of Johnstown's legal defense of a requested assessment reduction from $4.5 million to $1.3 million for the shopping center at 233 Fifth Ave. Ext.; and a reduction of assessment from $4 million to $2.8 million for the Arterial Plaza on Route 30A.
As a third action, the county will assist the town of Broadalbin in fighting a challenge by Rolling Ridge Mobile Home Park at 185 Old State Road to have its assessment reduced from $1.84 million to $810,000.
Blodgett and County Attorney Jason Brott were directed to assist attorneys for the city of Johnstown, the towns of Johnstown and Broadalbin, as well as respective school districts - Gloversville Enlarged School District, Greater Johnstown School District and the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District - in the legal defense of the assessment-reduction actions.
Prior to adoption of Fulton County's new policy, the county had no procedures in place to assist cities and towns to combat claims. Supervisors decided to set the threshold based on a policy created by Lewis County.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.