SOUTH GLENS FALLS — School officials have reluctantly accepted a tax settlement with SCA Americas and are now focusing on how to deal with the shortfall the settlement will cause.
“Our hands were essentially tied,” said former Superintendent of Schools Michael Patton, who in an unrelated move has now left the district to become superintendent in Saratoga Springs.
“The school district is understandably concerned that the town never had a current, written appraisal completed on the SCA property prior to agreeing to this settlement,” Patton added, in a prepared statement, noting the decision will cost the district $879,000 in anticipated revenue over the next five years.
The Moreau Town Board voted 3-2 to settle with the company, lowering the assessment for the main paper plant in South Glens Falls.
The settlement would reduce the tax bill for SCA, now called Essity, by 33 percent in 2018.
The school district had said it was considering challenging the assessment, but then said in court it would not, and at a Dec. 18 school board meeting voted to accept it.
The village of South Glens Falls had said it would challenge the assessment, but it did not establish its legal status in time.
Patton said the Board of Education did not have enough information about the change in assessment to move ahead and defend the case on its own, even though school district attorney Wayne Judge asked for information about the reduction from the town. He was never provided information, Patton said.
The board voted 7-1 to accept the agreement that was approved by the town. Kevin Ostrander voted no and Nelson Charon was absent.
The school district attorney advised that the district did not have a viable alternative.
Patton said school district officials will be asking the town to work more closely with the district on settling large-scale assessments.
“We want to make it clear to our taxpayers that this dramatic change in assessment will have a significant negative impact on our school district revenue,” Patton stated. “Over the next five years, the school district will be forced to make difficult decisions that will impact programs and services that help support our children.”
Patton said it was too early to determine what those decisions might need to include.