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The Times
  • Little Falls Family YMCA, city in court over tax-exempt status

  • A move that placed three properties owned by the Little Falls Family YMCA back on the tax rolls has landed city officials in a lawsuit.

    At the end of October, a judge will decide whether Little Falls City Assessor Joy Presta was right in removing 589 Albany St., 544 Garden St. and 43 Furnace St. from tax-exempt status.

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  • A move that placed three properties owned by the Little Falls Family YMCA back on the tax rolls has landed city officials in a lawsuit.
    At the end of October, a judge will decide whether Little Falls City Assessor Joy Presta was right in removing 589 Albany St., 544 Garden St. and 43 Furnace St. from tax-exempt status.
    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.”
    Presta said she based her decision off of that law.
    Likewise, YMCA Attorney Kathleen Bennett, of Bond, Schoeneck and King law office in Syracuse, said use of the properties make them eligible for tax-exemption under the same law.
    Attorney Armond Festine, who is representing the city, said he’s in the process of preparing the opposition papers and couldn’t say much.
    “The city believes the assessor’s actions were proper in removing the properties,” he said.
    Each year, the city assessor sends out renewal contracts for tax exemption, Presta said.
    This year, however, “a couple of properties are not being used, in my eyes, exclusively for what the articles of incorporation are representing,” she said. “I have reason to believe that it’s not.”
    The petition filed by the YMCA asserts the property uses have not changed since they were purchased, and the organization’s attorney points out they’ve previously received tax exemption.
    According to the complaint filed by the YMCA, the following properties are used exclusively for charitable purposes:
    •43 Furnace St.: Offers two two-bedroom low-income housing and emergency shelter rental units for male, female and family tenants by the night, week or month. In order to obtain housing at the cost of $350 to $375 per month, individuals or families must meet the low-income standard.
    •544 Garden St.: Offers two four-bedroom emergency, transitional and low-income rental units at $425 per month. Individuals who reside here also must meet low-income standards.
    •589 Albany St.: Houses the Community Co-op, a local food buying club that provides natural and specialty foods, bulk-foods, spices, supplements and hard-to-find items at discounted prices. Open to the public, there are no membership fees and about 770 families use the co-op each week.
    Bennett said the YMCA provides an array of services, including aquatic, health and fitness and child care services.
    “It’s going to impact the money that’s available for these types of programs,” she said.

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