Lake George Forum faces lawsuit for back taxes

The owners of the Lake George Forum, home to the areas leading trade shows, expos and festivals, is soon to face a lawsuit for non-payment of 2007 property tax payments. But the $3.6 million facilitys financial dilemma is likely to worsen, considering action taken Tuesday by the Warren-Washington Industrial Development Agency. The agency terminated an agreement it had with the Forum owners, Lake George Venture Partners, that allowed them to pay just a fraction of the taxes the Forum would normally owe based on a full assessment. The agreement, calling for payments in lieu of taxes at half the normal tax rate, was terminated Monday by a unanimous vote of the agencys board of directors. Meanwhile, the Warren County Attorneys office was preparing paperwork to launch a lawsuit to recover slightly more than $14,000 the county is owed for overdue payments in lieu of town and county property taxes. The Forum is also in arrears with the Lake George School District for $19,454 in 2007 school taxes plus interest and fines, according to Lyn Derway, Business Manager for the school district. She said shed be consulting with the schools attorney soon to see what steps were necessary to recover the overdue payments from the Forum. The payments in lieu of taxes were set up in 2003 when the forum began operation, and they call for the owners to pay 50 percent of the normal tax liability on the facility through 2009, and 75 percent for another five years, after which the agreement would end and theyd pay their full amount. When asked about the Forums future financial prospects, Forum General Manager Jason Sherry said he had to keep silent. I am not able to comment, he said. Apparently now the Forum will have to pay about $32,000 more annually in taxes than if its owners had paid their bills on time. This is the first time in at least a decade the development agency has terminated a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with an ongoing enterprise. The Forum has hosted leading regional exhibitions and trade shows including Americade Tour Expo, Adirondack Living Show, the Boating Expo, the Lake George RV Show, The Power Sports Expo, The Lake George Car Show, Rock the Forum music fest, the Adirondack Nationals, the Lake George Antiques Show, and the Lake George Elvis Festival. Featuring an Olympic-size skating rink, the Forum has hosted regional hockey tournaments and hockey schools as well as public skating and lessons. It also includes a fitness center, meeting rooms and a caf_ The Forum was open for business Tuesday as normal. Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais, who for years has advocated the construction of a trade show center in the village, said he was distressed over the financial hardships the Forum was apparently facing. The Forum has been a great asset for our region and it will be a great loss to the community if it closes down, he said, noting the increased activity in the village during the Forums hockey tournaments and trade shows. Im hopeful the owners find a way to stay in business.

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