The three Fulton County school districts blocked in state Supreme Court from suing to directly recover millions in delinquent property taxes from the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District may decide today to instead file suit against the county.
Northville Central School Superintendent Kathy Dougherty said she and the superintendents of the Mayfield and Broadalbin-Perth districts will meet today with their shared attorney to discuss their options following last week’s decision. Taking direction from the decision by Judge Richard T. Aulisi, the districts are likely to initiate an Article 78 suit against Fulton County – their co-plaintiff in the original lawsuit.
Aulisi ruled that the regulating district has 30 days to pay Fulton County more than $3 million in back taxes, but dismissed a claim against the state and found the school districts have no standing in litigation against the regulating district because under state law they must petition county government for reimbursement for unpaid taxes. By law, Aulisi said, the county must make the school districts whole by April 1 of each year.
Fulton County Administrator Jon R. Stead said county officials and their attorney are “still trying to find out where [the court decision] leaves us in terms of the next step. ... It’s quite a quagmire if you think about it.”
He said the county cannot afford to pay the school districts as the tax bill continues to accumulate, but he said the county does have about $10,000 in surplus.
Though the school districts were bumped from the initial lawsuit, the bulk of the $3.1 million expected from the regulating district will be distributed to them, officials said last week. Northville’s share is $656,000, but when tax bills are mailed in September, the agency will owe the district another $330,000, Dougherty said, raising the total to about $1 million.
In Mayfield, which also shares a long border along the lake as well as lake-bottom property owned by the district, Superintendent Paul Williamsen said last week the total bill as of September will be about $1 million.
The agency’s two-year bill in Broadalbin-Perth is $475,000.