by Bea Peterson
On Wednesday, August 10, John C. Wilkinson of WCW, Inc. in Hoosick Falls made good on his statement to this reporter last week and released a statement that announced the future move of his company. It will move to either Manchester, VT, or North Adams, MA.
Many of the assertions in Wilkinson’s statement, which follows, could not be verified by press time.
“WCW/JW Realty came to Hoosick Falls in 1998, 12 years ago, with 29 employees and its manufacturing operation has grown exclusively in Hoosick Falls. WCW/JW Realty has been very comfortable in Hoosick Falls. We found a willing and able workforce. Our initial location was on River Road and in late 2006, WCW/JW Realty purchased two properties at 1 Mechanic Street for the purpose of expansion. The Mechanic Street purchase cannot be classified as a distressed sale because the parties were totally unrelated and the seller and buyer were both in a strong financial condition. It was an absolute arms length transaction. Prior to purchase WCW/JW Realty was given verbal assurances by the Town and Village officials that the assessment on the property would be changed from the prior assessment to reflect current market values. That did not happen, and WCW filed an appeal in 2007. WCW/JW Realty then had an appraisal done which came in at $1.2 million. At that time WCW/JW Realty offered to agree to an assessment at that level, although it would be three times more than it had paid for the property. The Town and Village did not agree to accept the offer. The case advanced to the Courts where there has been delay after delay. No determination since 2007 has yet been made by the Court.
Currently the two parcels on Mechanic Street are assessed by the Village at $13,315,000, 33 times the purchase price. To put that figure into context, if someone purchased a home in the Village for $100,000, based on the above numbers, the assessed value would be $3.3 million. The Town also had an appraisal done which came in at $1.4 million. With that in hand, the Town has a current assessed value of $2,081,000 which is 5 times the purchase price. WCW/JW Realty knows of no appraisal ever done by the Village. The Village continues to assess 1 Mechanic Street at $13,315,000 and to date has been unwilling to change the assessment.
In June of 2011, WCW/JW Realty requested a meeting with both the Village and the Town to discuss a possible resolution to these issues. The response received from the Town counsel was that they did not believe that any productive result could come from a meeting based on WCW/JW Realty’s ‘track record.’ Based on the fact that WCW/JW Realty owns four properties in Hoosick Falls (2 parcels on River Road and 2 parcels on Mechanic Street) and for the past 11 years has paid all taxes with the exception of the 1 Mechanic Street location which is in tax dispute, we were puzzled as to what ‘track record’ they were referring. At that time WCW/JW Realty determined a new location was essential and would be leaving Hoosick Falls. In response to Mr. Rice’s statement that we have not paid taxes in 2011, taxes levied by the Town are current and school taxes are not due until September.
WCW/JW Realty believes it to be incredibly unfortunate that the Town of Hoosick and Village of Hoosick Falls officials have been unwilling to change the assessment values. That is the reason for WCW/JW Realty’s decision to leave Hoosick Falls.”
On Wednesday afternoon in his Mechanic Street office Wilkinson admitted that the company has never grieved the Village assessment. He believed he had a verbal understanding with the Mayor in 2007 that the assessment would be lowered to the appraised 1.2 million dollars. He believes there was a promise broken. Why should the Village change the assessment, he added. The County pays them at that high rate every year.
Wilkinson said, “We have never not paid taxes anywhere. This is a solid company. We’ve paid taxes on every property except this building. We’ve been advised by counsel not to pay these taxes until the case is settled.” He added that funds have been set aside for taxes at the $1.2 million level. “It’s been going on in the Rensselaer County Supreme Court since 2007 with one delay after another,” he said. He added that his attorney has had the 1.2 million dollar appraisal of the property all that time. He said the company found the “track record” comment insulting. “I will be livid if they change the tax rate for someone else,” he added.
Wilkinson concluded, “This Town can’t compete.” He named several towns with larger and nicer buildings the company has looked at and with more land that had total taxes of between $18,000 and $36,000.
Though Wilkinson anticipates the company will leave town by the fall they still have not selected a site for their move. Manchester, VT, and North Adams, MA, are both still in the running at this point, he said. “One hundred percent of our employees will be offered their jobs at our new location,” said Wilkinson.
The distance from here to Manchester is 24 miles one way and the distance to North Adams is 19 miles one way. A big change from just walking or driving down the street.
by Bea Peterson