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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 15, 2005

Atlas Copco. Settlement from school board on 9/12/05

By Holly Grosch

VOORHEESVILLE — After more than a year-and-half of negotiations, the Voorheesville School District will lose $37,000 of expected tax revenue from Atlas Copco this year.

Atlas Copco Comptec, Inc. challenged its commercial assessment, asking for a $1,550,000 reduction in its assessed value, said Sarita Winchell, the school’s assistant superintendent for business.

This Monday, the Voorheesville School Board unanimously approved a settlement, giving Atlas Copco a reduction of $1,350,000.

Winchell was pleased with the outcome. She said that it is a good settlement, because it’s not retroactive.

The agreement gives Altas Copco an new appraisal at the new level for this year, but the district does not owe any back pay, she said.

Atlas Copco was assessed at $4,950,000 and now, based on the tentative settlement, it will be $3,600,000. The private firm, located on School Road, manufactures and sells expansion turbines and compressors.

Voorheesville’s annual school budget this year is in the clear, Winchell said, because the school board had set aside $44,000 in a reserve for tax certiorari. The money in the reserve covers the loss of revenue to the district for this year’s budget.

Whenever a school district knows there is an assessment challenge, putting money in a reserve by board vote, "is the smart thing to do," Winchell said.

Next year’s tax rate will be re-set, as it is every year, based on the town-wide assessment value.

Atlas Copco’s property, like all properties throughout New Scotland, is given an assessed value based on the town’s assessing department.

In December of 2003, the Voorheesville School Board and the town of New Scotland entered into an inter-municipal agreement to jointly fight Atlas Copco’s challenge, Winchell said.

Reducing a commercial property’s assessment in New Scotland has a greater impact on the school district than the town, since school taxes are far higher, so the school paid 80 percent of the legal fees related to the negotiations and the town covered the other 20 percent, Winchell said.

This percentage was decided upon, so that the town’s litigation fees would not be more than what it would get out of the agreement in tax dollars, said Winchell.

While Atlas Copco‘s challenge has been settled, the school and town are still negotiating with Colonie Golf and Country Club, which has requested over a million dollars in reduction as well.

So far the school’s legal fees to fight both challenges total $9,657.

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