Saratoga County

Saratoga County property owners challenging assessments

The new Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park is among more than a dozen Saratoga County properties whos

The new Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park is among more than a dozen Saratoga County properties whose owners have filed assessment challenges in court.

The six-story hotel attached to the Clifton Park Center mall opened in late 2011. Its assessment rose from $162,000 in 2012 to $5.5 million for 2013.

Owner Donald C. Greene is appealing the assessment to the state Supreme Court in Saratoga County, asking that the tax valuation of the 104-room hotel be lowered to $4.3 million.

Property owners who unsuccessfully grieved their property tax assessments in May can file a court action against the municipality’s Board of Assessment Review between July 1 and 31.

Now, midway through the month, most of the filers are owners who routinely challenge their assessments, mainly national corporations that have local properties, such as Rite Aid, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Quad/Graphics; and large local developers such as Greene, who filed appeals on several properties in Clifton Park and one in Saratoga Springs.

The Clifton Park appeals do not include Clifton Park Center, which Greene’s company, DCG Development, also owns.

DCG and the town reached a settlement in 2009 setting the assessment for the mall with the knowledge that a parcel would be subdivided off for a hotel and its assessment increased, said town attorney Tom McCarthy.

“They’re essentially testing the assessor’s assessment,” he said of the hotel challenge.

In Saratoga Springs, Don Greene Enterprises also filed a challenge for a property at 46 Congress St. that is proposed to become a six-story hotel next to the CVS Pharmacy.

The property is assessed at $11.6 million and Greene’s company wants it reduced to $6.5 million, according to the court filing. The company asked for the same reduction last year; that case is still pending.

A handful of commercial property owners in Saratoga Springs have challenged their assessments so far; almost all of them are companies that routinely fight their assessments.

“Most of the national companies that have real estate, they almost do it every year,” said John Franck, Saratoga Springs commissioner of accounts.

The only new petitioner is Williamsburg Court Associates, which owns a 44-unit apartment complex at 140-160 Lincoln Ave. That property is assessed at $3.1 million and the owner argues it should be $1.9 million.

The property has been assessed at that level since at least 2008, according to county property records.

Other assessment challenges around the county include:

• Quad/Graphics at W. J. Grande Industrial Park off of Geyser Road in Saratoga Springs wants its $27.1 million assessment on 12 parcels dropped to $8.3 million.

• Ball Metal Beverage Container Corp. at Grande Industrial Park wants its $11.6 million assessment lowered to $4.1 million.

• ADD Realty Inc. and 3 Care Lane LLC challenged the $12.6 million assessments at 3 Care Lane and 1 West Ave. in Saratoga Springs, saying they should be only $5.1 million.

• Kohl’s wants its Clifton Park store’s assessment to be lowered from $5.2 million to $1.3 million.

• Home Depot challenged the $5.2 million assessment on its store in Halfmoon, asking that it be dropped to $4 million.

• MHD LLC, which owns the former Borders bookstore building at the corner of Broadway and Division Street in Saratoga Springs, wants its $4.2 million assessment reduced to $1.8 million.

• Rite Aid Corp. asked to reduce the $3.9 million assessment on its store at 27 Round Lake Road, Malta, to $395,000.

• 2906 Route 9 Realty, the owner of Saratoga Nissan in Malta, wants to reduce its $4.7 million assessment to $1.2 million.

• J.C. Penney Corp. asked the court to reduce the $6.6 million assessment on its Wilton store to $665,400.

• Ridgeview Commons Townhomes on Townhouse Drive in Wilton wants its $5.2 million assessment lowered to $4.3 million.

• Donald C. Greene, Beverly J. Greene and Clifton Park Senior Living challenged assessments on 5 Maxwell Drive, which they would like lowered from $8.6 million to $7.5 million; 100-400 Clifton Corporate Parkway, which they ask be lowered from $3.8 million to $1.9 million; and Clifton Park Senior Living at 8 Wall St., which they would like reduced from $3.9 million to $3.1 million.

• Regency Realty Associates of Malta requested that its 103-acre mobile home park on Taddeo Road be reduced from $16.3 million to $10.3 million and that an apartment complex on Knabner Road be lowered from $7.2 million to $4 million.

If an owner is successful in reducing the assessment through a settlement with the town or through a trial, the owner may get a refund on some taxes already paid or may just get a lowered assessment going forward, McCarthy said.

“Sometimes that’s a bargaining chip,” he said.

Owners have to continue paying taxes while they challenge the assessment.

If the assessment is lowered in court, the owner is not allowed to contest it for three years afterward, and the municipality isn’t allowed to raise the assessment for that time, either, he said.

But if the challenge is dismissed or isn’t resolved one way or the other, the owner can bring it again the next year.

Most municipalities and school districts keep money in reserve in case owners win their cases and are awarded refunds.

Saratoga Springs keeps between $150,000 and $200,000 in an account for that purpose, Franck said.

And municipalities and school districts also pay legal fees to fight the assessment challenges.

“A large portion of my budget is legal fees and tax refunds,” he said.

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