FORT EDWARD — The continuing saga of the Fort Edward town, village and school district unpaid taxes related to the former General Electric Co. dewatering site is now affecting the Washington County fund balance, according to County Treasurer Al Nolette.
“It affects our cash,” he said. “We look healthier on paper.”
Explaining it further, Nolette said that it’s like owning property but not having any cash to buy groceries.
“The fund balance we show on paper isn’t really our fund balance. Right?,” Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks asked Nolette.
“There’s some big IOUs,” said Nolette during the meeting “I’m still holding the bag on $1.765 million from the school, another $300,000 for the village.”
The town situation is a bit different, Nolette explained, with their tax bill of $492,810 due on Sept. 1.
During the meeting, Hicks asked Fort Edward Supervisor Terry Middleton when the town plans to pay the county, and Middleton said before September.
Quickly calculating the other numbers, Hicks expressed his anger about the situation.
“That’s our money, that’s Washington County’s money,” he said. “That’s due us, it’s money we should have. I’m hoping you can tell us the first day that’s due for foreclosure we have to get ahead of the situation and get that back, because that’s insane.”
The earliest the dewatering site, now owned by the Fort Edward Local Property Development Corp., could go up for county foreclosure auction is Jan. 2, 2021, Nolette said.
Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors worked with Fort Edward town, village and school district regarding the re-payment of this money.
“Five months ago we sat here and we were the ones who compromised and capitulated to make it work so everybody could make a deal,” said Hicks, referring to a court-ordered settlement agreed to between the school district, the town and WCC, the former owner of the site.
But Nolette said he got a heads-up that the school district is considering not paying the full amount due, opting to relinquish its county make-whole payments each year until the balance is paid.
Several supervisors said the county is not a bank.
“Why are we financing the school? Why are we the cash flow for all these entities down there that owe us the money? I think it’s time we stand up and say it’s time for Washington County to look out for Washington County and get our money back,” said Hicks. “This is insane to me. I suggest next Friday we have an executive session with our lawyers and say what’s the best thing for Washington County: how do we get our money?”
With the county again left holding the unpaid Fort Edward tax bag, several supervisors are ready to demand payment.
“This affects the fund balance, 4% of that is Hartford money,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, a member of the finance committee (who was not present at Thursday’s meeting) on Thursday afternoon. “I want it now. I’m tired of being taken for a ride by Fort Edward.”