State tax decision eyed by supervisors

QUEENSBURY A case in Chautauqua County has caught the attention of Warren County supervisors. Acting Supreme Court Judge Timothy Walker has ordered the state to stop paying taxes on state-owned land to communities, counties, municipalities or school or other special districts. Walker also ordered a stay on his decision, pending appellate review. The order was in response to a lawsuit brought by John Dillenburg III, supervisor of the small town of Arkwright, who has been trying for years to get the state to pay taxes on about 2,000 acres of land owned by the Department of Conservation. Walker called the state land taxation system a hodge podge of provisions, devoid of any consistent rationale. Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe called on the board to create a resolution in response to the decision. It would be devastating if the state stopped paying taxes on land, Monroe said. Warren County alone would lose over $5 million if the state stops paying taxes. Bolton Supervisor Alexander Gabriels said the loss to his town would be significant. Our assessor indicated the loss of $800.000 if the state stops paying taxes, Gabriels said. County Attorney Paul Dusek said that the state is generally exempt from paying taxes, but over the years, laws have been passed in different municipalities that makes the state pay taxes in some instances, such as on land deemed forest preserve. They keep making amendments so some towns have different tax policies, Dusek said. This case says the taxation is not equal under the law. Dusek said there is time for the board to decide just how to respond to the decision. Its a very significant decision, and Ive spoken to the attorney generals office, Dusek said. Were looking at a couple of months before they file their briefs. He said he will keep the board of supervisors up to date on the case. We have to keep a close eye on this, Monroe said. Im not comfortable having the attorney general represent our interests.

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