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The Times
  • Ruffing: Lawsuit is ‘officially over’

  • The lawsuit that questioned the tax-exempt status of three properties owned by the Little F alls Family YMCA has come to an end.

    Little Falls Common Council President and Third Ward Alderman Mark Ruffing Tuesday evening said Oneida County Supreme Court Judge Norman Seigel signed the stipulation of discontinuance that was agreed upon by the city and the YMCA.

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  • The lawsuit that questioned the tax-exempt status of three properties owned by the Little F alls Family YMCA has come to an end.
    Little Falls Common Council President and Third Ward Alderman Mark Ruffing Tuesday evening said Oneida County Supreme Court Judge Norman Seigel signed the stipulation of discontinuance that was agreed upon by the city and the YMCA.
    The Common Council voted last month to terminate the services of the attorney for the city in the litigation with the YMCA and to appoint new counsel to resolve the lawsuit.
    The council also passed a resolution requesting Mayor Robert Peters, Ruffing, attorney Nicholas Macri and YMCA attorney Kathleen Bennett meet to finalize the stipulation.
    “The meeting did take place as requested,” said Ruffing. “We went over the wording of the stipulation of discontinuance and were able to reach an agreement on everything.”
    The council previously agreed to return the properties — emergency and income housing at 43 Furnace St. and 544 Garden St. and a community co-op at 589 Albany St. that provides natural and specialty foods at discount prices — to tax-exempt status.
    The agreement that was passed by the council in March also stipulates returning funds to the YMCA that have been paid since the properties were placed on the tax rolls and ensures no costs to either party. The deal binds the city for the next three years.
    “Judge Seigel signed the stipulation, so the lawsuit is officially over,” said Ruffing.
    In other business Tuesday evening, Fourth Ward Alderwoman Patricia Long asked if the city could sponsor a cleanup in its parks, similar to last week’s effort at Sabin Park and on lower South Ann Street. “It would be a way to beautify the city now that spring and summer are here,” said Long. “Even if it is just neighbors working with neighbors to pick up the trash that is in the parks, it would help make them look nicer.”
    • Mayor Peters said he has received a number of complaints about cats running loose and suggested the city may have to look at enacting an ordinance against the issue.
    “I don’t know if the city can enact a leash law for cats, or if it could enforce such as law, but this something we may have to look into if there continue to be complaints,” he said.
    • The mayor also said the city would press on in its effort to complete a revaluation.
    “Personally, this is something I think should happen. I think I’ve been saying that since 2008, and now the city is closer to making it a reality,” said Peters.
    While there is no timetable for when the revaluation would occur, he said a number of meetings and public hearings would be scheduled to explain and the review the process.
    Page 2 of 2 - He also said the revaluation would be performed by the state and could cost the city as much as $100,000 to complete. City Treasurer David Petkovsek said the cost could be split over two years to prevent the city from “feeling the effect all in one year.”
    “There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, and there is still some research that needs to be done, but I believe a revaluation will occur,” said Peters.
    • First Ward Alderman Ronald Petrie asked for an update on the removal of the debris from the demolition of the row houses on Garden Street and the mayor replied Jim Palmer, of the Board of Public Works, is in the process of coming up with a solution.
    “Of 16 samples that were taken at the site one came back as being positive for asbestos,” said Peters. “A contractor will have to be hired to remove the debris, likely at a cost of $6,000 to $7,000, and there is the possibility the city’s Department of Public Works may be able to get in there and fill it in and grade the area, which would save money.”
    “The project is moving forward, but with the state, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the testing and the paperwork involved it is taking time,” he added.
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