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Supreme Court dismisses Dillenburg lawsuit

WILLSBORO Calling it a victory for the Adirondack Park, Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward (R-Willsboro) announced Monday that the state Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to end state tax payments to communities inside the Blue Line. The potentially catastrophic lawsuit claimed that it was unfair for municipalities in the Adirondacks to receive tax payments on state-owned land. Many villages and towns rely on the millions of dollars that the state pays for designated Forest Preserves. Our Adirondack Pak communities, counties and schools would have lost millions of dollars in tax payments if this decision had been ruled in favor of the plaintiff, said Sayward. In these tough economic times, the taxpayers in the Adirondacks won a huge victory. John Dillenburg III, former supervisor of Arkwright in Western New York, filed the lawsuit in 2006. He contended that is was unconstitutional for the state to pay real estate taxes on some of its land but not on others. Last November, Judge Timothy Walker said that the states method of taxation was mish-mashed and arbitrary. After Walkers ruling, the state filed an appeal of the case and continued making payments while the suit moved to the Appellate Division. Mondays decision ruled that the state has sovereign immunity and is not obliged to pay taxes on state-owned land. Furthermore, the decision stated that the state could waive its tax immunity at its discretion and make payments as it sees fit. According to a spokesperson for Sayward, the states decision to limit its waiver of immunity is a matter of legislative discretion, and therefore does not fall under the constitution. As of press time, representatives for Dillenburg were discussing whether to appeal the ruling to New Yorks highest court.

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