by Bea Peterson
According to Rensselaer County Attorney Stephen A. Pechenik, J.W. Realty, owners of the WCW properties at 1 Mechanic Street in Hoosick Falls, owe the County $1.4 million in back taxes; $320,000 of that amount is late penalties and interest. J.W. Realty has not paid any taxes on the Mechanic Street properties since WCW, owned by the Wilkinson family, moved into the buildings in 2007. Last week Attorney Pechenik said the properties are in foreclosure and he expects a summary judgement in 30 to 45 days. “By then the County will be in possession of the property. We have tried to work with them,” said Pechenik, “but they have left us with no choice.” The County did reach out to J.W. Realty, the Village of Hoosick Falls, the Hoosick Falls School District and the Town of Hoosick in an attempt to come to a compromise regarding both the assessed value and the interest and penalties that had accrued, but the attempt was unsuccessful. “When everything else failed, we had to resort to foreclosure,” Pechenik said. He added that J.W. Realty/WCW does have “a tax grievance going on.”
Once the County has title to the properties, an effort will be made to sell them to an adjacent tenant, such as Oak Mitsui, if they are interested. Oak Mitsui rents one of the Mechanic Street buildings. Otherwise they will sell the properties in a foreclosure sale.
According to Town of Hoosick Assessor Tony Rice, J.W. Realty purchased the two parcels on Mechanic Street from Isola in May 2006 in a “Sale of Distress” for $400,000. The full value on the Town Assessment Roll for the property was $10,380,078.
Rice said three meetings were set up thereafter with Town and Village officials and John Wilkinson and his attorney. Wilkinson attended only one of the three meetings and the attorney, Town and Village came to no agreement on the property value.
In May 2007 J.W. Realty/WCW filed a grievance with the Town. Rice reduced the full value for the properties to $1,740,035. Wilkinson still considered the value too high and the case continued.
Rice said later in 2007 a Judge ordered “Court Ready Appraisals” to be done by both J.W. Realty/WCW and the Town. An appraisal was completed by the Town. “WCW was granted several extensions by the Court to submit an appraisal and to this date has not,” said Rice.
In 2009 the value of the properties was increased to $2,000,000, based on the appraisal done for the Town. In 2011 the Town’s assessed full value of the property is $2,081,802.
The Village of Hoosick Falls has the properties assessed for $14,155,893 and the taxable value at $1,981,825.
County Taxpayers Lose
The way the system works, the County is obligated to make all other taxing authorities whole. Therefore, the County has paid the Hoosick Falls School District, the Town of Hoosick and the Village of Hoosick Falls for all taxes they have levied since 2007. This process has cost Rensselaer County and its taxpayers well over one million dollars.
Rensselaer County Chief Fiscal Officer Mike Slawson noted that the total amount owed by J.W. Realty, before foreclosure, was expected to grow to $1,600,000 by January 2012, with the additional School, Village and Town/County tax bills forthcoming this year.
WCW’s Future In Hoosick Falls
For several weeks rumors have been flying throughout Hoosick and Hoosick Falls that WCW is leaving town. WCW has a second worksite in Hoosick on Route 22, and this year’s taxes on that property have not been paid.
On Wednesday, August 3, John C. Wilkinson, spokesman for the company, was asked about the future of WCW in Hoosick Falls. He said, “Right now the future is unknown,” and added that he was not ready to make a statement. But, he said, next week he would be able to comment.
by Bea Peterson