Lawyers representing the Northville Central School District were authorized Wednesday to “begin the process” to recover about $700,000 in back taxes owed the district by the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District.
Though a news release issued by the district does not specify that the board of education authorized the Albany law firm of Girvin & Ferlazzo to sue Fulton County to compel it to cover the regulating district’s unpaid tax bill, board Vice President James Beirlein confirmed Thursday a lawsuit could eventually be filed.
Beirlein said the board voted Wednesday to instruct the lawyers “to begin the action.” But, he said, if the regulating district complies with a state Supreme Court ruling from last week and pays its tax bill within 30 days — the deadline is July 23 — additional litigation would not be necessary.
The school district’s news release also mentions that New York state could yet step in and cover about $3.1 million owed by its agency to Fulton County, the villages of Mayfield and Northville and the Northville, Mayfield and Broadalbin-Perth school districts. Legislators have filed letters with Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking for the payment, the news release said.
The latest developments follow a June 23 ruling by state Supreme Court Judge Richard T. Aulisi on a lawsuit filed jointly in March by the three school districts and the county. Aulisi ruled the regulating district must pay the county within 30 days, but in the same decision, he dismissed the case against the state and found the school districts did not have standing in the action.
Aulisi said state law compels county government — and not the state — to make school districts whole for unpaid taxes by April 1 of each year.
Northville Superintendent Kathy Dougherty said Thursday she cannot elaborate on the meaning of “begin the process.” The news release, she said, was “very carefully worded by the lawyers.”
Girvin & Ferlazzo lawyer Kristine A. Lanchantin did not return calls for comment.
Even though Aulisi dismissed the action against the state, Dougherty said because the regulating district is a state agency, “the state needs to step in and support the agency.”
Officials in the Mayfield and Broadalbin-Perth school districts were unavailable Thursday, but Dougherty said the school boards in those districts have yet to take action matching Northville’s authorization to proceed.