The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District will not make today’s deadline to pay Fulton County $1.7 million in back taxes, the agency’s leader said.
“As of today, we are unable to,” Executive Director Michael Clark said Thursday. “The money is simply not in the accounts to pay the taxes.”
Fulton County Treasurer E. Terry Blodgett confirmed this Thursday. “It has not come across my desk,” he said.
State Supreme Court Judge Richard Aulisi gave the district until the end of this month to pay the back taxes. His order did not specify what would happen if the district missed the deadline. He initially ordered the district to pay the taxes within 10 days of his Aug. 2 decision, but then granted an extension.
Jon Stead, administrative officer for the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, said Aulisi will have to determine the next step. “The judge has made an order and is waiting for the regulating district to comply. It would be up to the judge to make them comply,” he said.
Blodgett said he was expecting the regulating district to make the payment.
“Every time there is a deadline, I do expect it. But it is one of these events you can’t count on anymore. It is so intertwined with everything else, it is difficult to sort it out,” he said.
Clark said the regulating district is itself trying to get five downstate counties to pay their apportionments, based on an Appellate Court decision in May. That decision said the regulating district has the legal authority to bill five downstream counties — Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren and Washington — for providing them with flood-control protection.
It would have used this money to pay the back taxes, Clark said.
The regulating district sent bills to the counties earlier this year, but they are instead contesting the apportionments through a grievance process. They have also asked the state Court of Appeals to hear an appeal of the Appellate Court’s decision.
One issue that has been resolved is that the directors of the regulating district will not be held liable for paying the taxes, Clark said. Aulisi’s order implied the directors would have to pay them if the district did not.
Clark said Aulisi is issuing a letter clarifying his order and stating the directors are not liable for paying the back taxes to Fulton County.
Fulton County filed an Article 78 proceeding earlier this year against the regulating district, seeking to recover $720,000 the county paid to the towns and villages for 2012 taxes; $230,000 it paid to the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District; $372,000 it paid to the Mayfield Central School District; and $338,000 it paid to the Northville Central School District for 2011-2012 taxes.
The county had initially made whole only the towns and villages for the taxes, and not the school districts. It made the school districts whole in July after being ordered to do so by Aulisi. The school districts had forced the issue by filing an Article 78 proceeding of their own this year against the county.
The school districts took that same legal action last year when the regulatory district failed to pay taxes and the county refused to make the school districts whole. The difference last year was the county joined with the school districts, paying for court costs, and the regulatory district paid its overdue taxes after liquidating some assets.