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Al Nolette

Washington County Treasurer Al Nolette is seen during a supervisors meeting in May. According to Nolette, the village of Fort Edward owes $340,270 to the county and the school district owes $1.7 million, both payments were due on April 1. 

FORT EDWARD — The several million dollars in unpaid Fort Edward school, town and village taxes related to the former General Electric Co. dewatering facility significantly impacts the county’s cash flow, said Washington County Treasurer Al Nolette.

“It is not in our fund balance and I am reluctant to let it go any further,” said Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks, following Friday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “They know they owe us the money.”

With budget planning scheduled for September, several county supervisors are demanding the county’s money that remains unpaid in an ongoing saga of negotiations, penalty and interest forgiveness and varying promises of forthcoming payments.

“Enough is enough,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff. “I know I come across as a ‘bomb thrower,’ but as Matt points out, the county cannot be milquetoast about this a second time around.”

According to Nolette, the town of Fort Edward tax bill of $492,810, due to the county, will go on the Ford Edward tax levy if not paid by Dec. 1. But that would be a significant increase for taxpayers since the amount is almost half again the town’s current levy, said Nolette.

Fort Edward Supervisor Terry Middleton said after the meeting that he had no comment on the issue, but did say it is his plan to pay the county before the deadline.

The village of Fort Edward tax bill of $585,798 was due on April 1. The village has paid $245,521 and still owes the county $340,270, according to Nolette.

The Fort Edward Union Free School District’s $1.7 million tax bill was also due on April 1 and it is currently unpaid. There has been some discussion that the school intends to pay it over several years, relinquishing its annual make-whole payments instead of paying the entire amount.

Nolette said he sent the school district information regarding loan options so they could pay the county the full amount. But he has not heard from the school district.

“The district has been operating under the impression that both the district and county were on the same page with the money being repaid through the make-whole payments being withheld each April,” said Superintendent Daniel Ward late Friday. “The district has investigated paying the charge-backs through borrowing. Additionally, the district has never received any paperwork from the county about taking out loans.”

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During Friday’s meeting, Hicks said he was waiting for some financial figures from the county administration, but wants the Finance Committee to discuss the issue and bring it back to the board in September.

“I am not going to let this drop,” he said.

Haff followed.

“We just went through all this with Fort Edward and we are getting set up to be shafted again,” said Haff. “We grabbed the snake by the tail. … Fort Edward is not an honorable partner. … We’re all on the hook for this. I’m done. Let’s collect the money. Four percent of this is Hartford’s money. We’ve been fools once, let’s not be fools again.”

While Haff was speaking, Middleton tried to interject, but Haff reminded him he had the floor.

“I take offense at that,” Middleton said, adding that if the supervisors were so concerned about the school’s payment, they should have gone to Monday’s school board meeting.

Both Hicks and Haff said after the supervisors’ meeting that it is not their responsibility to go to the meeting.

“It’s not our responsibility to go to their school board meeting to tell them something they already know,” said Hicks.

And following the supervisors meeting, Nolette said county officials are exploring ways that the county can collect its money.

“The treasurer needs to get the money,” said Haff. “They are doing it again. They want the county to make them whole on all the money that they still owe us and then incrementally pay us back over a 10-year period. There’s no harm to them, all the harm comes to the county.”

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Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.

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