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Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. v. Town of Floyd Assessor

Other Lower Courts

July 31, 2001

In the Matter of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Petitioner,
v.
Town of Floyd Assessor et al., Respondents, and Holland Patent Central School District, Intervenor-Respondent.

COUNSEL

Tabner, Ryan & Keniry, Albany (William F. Ryan, Jr., of counsel), for intervenor-respondent. Kohn & Moseman, Remsen

Page 767

(James W. Moseman of counsel), for respondents.

Helm, Shapiro, Anito & McCale, P. C., Albany (Lawrence A. Zimmerman of counsel), for petitioner.

OPINION

Anthony F. Shaheen, J.

Petitioner Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation commenced these three proceedings under RPTL article 7, challenging the assessed value for tax years 1998, 1999 and 2000 of two parcels of property containing transmission and distribution lines used to transmit electricity.

These same two parcels were also the subject of tax certiorari petitions for the years 1994 through 1997. After significant and lengthy negotiations, the parties agreed to settle only the 1994-1997 proceedings, even though the 1998 and 1999 proceedings were pending at the time of settlement. On April 5, 2000, this Court (Shaheen, J.) signed a stipulated settlement changing the 1994-1997 assessments on these two parcels as follows:

Tax ID#

Initial Assessment

Agreed 1994

Agreed 1995

Agreed 1996

Agreed 1997

636-1-1

606,671

592,531

600,116

[***]

[***]

636-1-3

6,491,849

6,075,069

6,207,551

6,090,144

6,353,230

It is uncontested that prior to entry of this stipulated order, petitioner had timely filed its 1998 and 1999 petitions and the parties had discussed settlement of the 1998 and 1999 petitions, but could not reach a settlement as to these tax years. Petitioner wanted to establish the assessed value for 1998 and 1999 by continuing to utilize the same methodology used in their 1994-1997 stipulation (that is, the formula used by the New York State Office of Real Property Services); whereas, the respondent Town wanted to simply maintain the 1997 agreed-upon value for the subsequent years. Petitioner would not agree to simply maintain the 1997 value because it was inconsistent with the basis for settling the prior years and because it failed to account for the continued depreciation which the property experienced. Accordingly, the parties intentionally limited their settlement in the April 5, 2000 stipulated order to

Page 768

the 1994-1997 petitions; and the 1998 and 1999 petitions remained in litigation.

It is also uncontested that after entry of the stipulated order, the respondent Town filed its final assessment roll for the 2000 tax year, placing an assessed value on these two parcels back up to the initial and highest value it had in 1994 when petitioner commenced the very first certiorari proceeding which was the subject of the stipulated order. As such, petitioner filed a petition for the 2000 tax year, which also remains in litigation.

Intervenor-respondent Holland Patent Central School District now raises RPTL 727 as a bar to the three pending proceedings and asks this Court to dismiss these tax certiorari petitions, and to continue the 1997 value for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000. Respondent Town of Floyd joins in that motion. Petitioner opposes this motion on the grounds that RPTL 727 was not intended to govern proceedings which are already pending at the time of settlement and which the parties intentionally chose not to include in the settlement. Petitioner further asserts that despite the respondents' claimed reliance on RPTL 727 in this motion, they violated the intent of RPTL 727 by maintaining the assessments for 1998, 1999 and 2000 at the ...


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