Sandy Lewis, center, has filed a complaint in court against the town of Essex over the assessed value of two of the six parcels that make up the Lewis Family Farm there.
Photo by Katherine Clark.
continued Baillie said that she had a concern over how the new number was reached for the largest parcel of property.
“They couldn’t explain to us how they changed that number,” Baillie said. “Assessors need to explain that. Residential assessments are different than agricultural assessments.”
Lewis said that he was surprised to hear that the town had budgeted the money specifically for this case.
“I think that this is something that the taxpayers should be aware of,” Lewis said. “They are putting this much aside for this case? If they lowered the assessment properly, it would still not cost the town as much as they have budgeted to defend it.”
Lewis added that his total tax bill in 2011 was less than the budgeted amount for legal fees in this case.
“I am one of the biggest taxpayers in this town, but I am also one of the biggest philanthropists,” he said. “If this town’s approach with us survives, then we as a farm will not survive. We can’t survive if the people around want to kill her.”
Both Lewis and Boisen said that they would like to find a way to settle the matter before it goes before Essex County Court Judge Richard Meyer, who has been appointed to oversee the case. Meyer also oversaw Lewis’ case against the Adirondack Park Agency.
“I would always hope that we could come to a mutual agreement before we go into court in any legal matter,” Boisen said. “That’s the best case. It would be great not to need all of the money that has been budgeted for legal expenses.”
“There can be a negotiation and if it comes to a satisfactory concussion and we come to an agreement, then the suit ends,” Lewis said. “We are still in the preparation process and our stuff will be ready by the first or second week in January.”