|
|
|
The Times
  • No decision yet in suit involving YMCA, Little Falls

  • Arguments in the lawsuit between the city and its local YMCA have been heard, but Oneida County Supreme Court Judge Norman Seigel has requested more information. “After hearing the arguments, the judge determined there were questions of fact here that precluded him making a summary judgment,” city Att...
    • email print
  • Arguments in the lawsuit between the city and its local YMCA have been heard, but Oneida County Supreme Court Judge Norman Seigel has requested more information.
    “After hearing the arguments, the judge determined there were questions of fact here that precluded him making a summary judgment,” city Attorney Armond Festine said. “The matter is now pending to proceed on to discovery and ultimately trial.”
    Late last month, Seigel heard the arguments concerning the city assessor Joy Presta’s decision to place three properties owned by the YMCA back on the tax rolls.
    The properties in question are low-income and emergency housing at 43 Furnace and 544 Garden streets, and a Community Co-op providing natural and specialty foods at discount prices at 589 Albany St.
    Presta’s affidavit stated she did research on the properties and found the claim the apartments are rented below market value is “an illusory and disingenuous argument …”
    “My research indicates that a typical two-bedroom apartment reasonably comparable to the subject apartments would rent in the $400 to $450 range,” she said in the affidavit. “The subject Furnace Street apartments are rented at $350 to $375 respectively.”
    Once a “correction” is made for the lack of property tax expense, Presta said the apartments aren’t a charitable operation.
    Presta also offered a similar argument for the Garden Street housing, and asserted the food co-op offers high-end health food and specialty items selling at “comparable retail prices.”
    A photo attached with the affidavit shows an eight-tenths of a pound bag of dark chocolate covered blueberries for $8.61, which Presta used as an example of an item sold at a price comparable to any retail store.
    Both sides in the case site state real property tax law section 420 as the basis of their arguments.
    The law stipulates property owned by a corporation or association “organized or conducted exclusively for religious, charitable, hospital, educational, or moral or mental improvement of men, women or children purposes, or for two or more such purposes, and used exclusively for carrying out thereupon one or more such purposes … shall be exempt from taxation.”
    Both parties said they used this law for the basis of their arguments.
    YMCA Attorney Kathleen Bennett, of Bond, Schoeneck and King law office in Syracuse, said the property uses have not changed and previously they’ve received tax exemption.
    Festine said the city believes the assessor’s actions were right.
    “These particular properties are not being used in support of the charitable mission,” he said.
      • calendar