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HAYSSEN: Varick Supervisor responds to ‘FACTS’ issued by Seneca Co. IDA

Winning bidder Earl Martin during a press conference held by the Seneca Co. IDA after announcing the completion of the bid process.

I’d like to comment on an article in the Finger Lakes Times regarding the facts about the Seneca Army Depot sale and bid process. (Monday, January 9th, 2017)

Mr. Earl Martin says he needs time to finalize the assessment. I want to reassure the Board of Supervisors and the public that the assessment, or also known as a ‘REVAL’, will be finalized by May 1st, 2017 as required by law.

If Mr. Martin or the IDA isn’t happy with the assessment, they have the opportunity to sit down with the assessor and attempt to reach a settlement on a different value. If unsuccessful the next step is Grievance Day in late-May, which is held in both [Romulus and Varick].

The outcome of Grievance Day establishes the final values on those parcels, which will be used going forward on raising taxes. The school district will use this final value in September – if it is sold.

No matter what, it will be the new assessed value.

Also Mr. Martin has the option of seeking relief in the Courts. If he wins and it is reduced further, the taxing jurisdictions will be forced to return the disputed dollars.

It will be completed in a timely manner and there is no need to delay the closing on this sale. There is also no need for a PILOT. All of the bidders, understood going into the process, that they would be paying taxes on the assessed value.

Looking back: Why didn’t the IDA — [the owner of the Depot property] — begin this process when they decided to sell the Depot. The other bidders called the assessor, understood the assessment process and were still willing to bid knowing that no PILOT, or incentives would be offered.

Mr. Aronson continues to dance around this statement.

Photo of a White Deer at the Depot site.

If the IDA is worried about the prorated taxes on today’s value — if the property is sold before a new assessment is determined, I am confident that all of the taxing jurisdictions will waive these taxes in the spirit of fairness while the assessing process works out.

Knowing Mr. Aronson, you really have to read into his words.

He uses Mr. Martin to quote “finalize the assessment.”

What does that really mean?

Once the property is sold, the IDA is supposed to be out of the picture. But, if they still own it — even after they have been paid in-full — the IDA still has a seat at the table.

To me, this means that a possible court case — maybe a long- and very contentious one is very possible, before any final assessment is determined.

This tells me that the IDA could or would be leading, possibly a long and protracted battle against the southern four Towns of Seneca County. This could end up being very costly to the four Towns (Varick, Romulus, Ovid, and Lodi) and the breakup of our partnership. Potentially, even the loss of our assessor.

Is this what we really want?

No.

This is why they need a lease. It started out at three years. Now it’s one, maybe two years. We don’t even know when the lease will start. It may start in six months — maybe a year.

So when does the clock really start ticking?

Again, if this is the route that Mr. Martin wants to pursue, so be it. I hope not, as I have the utmost trust in our assessor. It should not happen with the assistance of the IDA.

If you believe the article, twenty farm homesteads will be developed, which we were led to believe, would happen almost overnight. This would make the new assessment obsolete almost instantly.

Maybe this is not in the plan anymore. Mr. Aronson has said, once it is sold all bets are off on the future use of the Depot. Meaning, what is proposed today doesn’t matter, as the new owner is free to do whatever he or she wants within the law.

Many people have asked me when these homestead parcels will be listed for sale inside the Depot. Not one member of the public I spoke to supports the proposed PILOT. Many have become disillusioned over how this process turned out. They also say that white deer sightings have become fewer and rare.

I urge the Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution opposing the PILOT and request the sale to commence as soon as possible. If this isn’t possible, rebid it and open the property up to more bidders with split up parcels.

Time to make it a community again as we were promised by Mr. Martin and the IDA.

Quit cutting bait, it is time to go fishing.

We also need an aerial census of the deer population, white and brown as soon as possible.

Bob Hayssen, Varick Town Supervisor

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