The Clarkstown Town Board and Board of Education voted unanimously in a joint meeting last night to approve a $20 million tax certiorari settlement with the Palisades Center mall, The Journal News/lohud.com reports today.
The school district will refund $13 million to the mall, the town will pay back $5 million, and the county and other taxing districts will return $2 million. The mall, which is Rockland’s largest taxpayer, said it will pass on the bulk of the refunds to its tenants.
The Palisades Center mall, which is assessed at $253 million, filed a tax certiorari complaint three years ago seeking a tax refund of $30 million and a two-thirds decrease in its assessment. In a motion filed a year ago this month, the Palisades center asked the judge to reduce the assessment for 2012-13 too. The agreement announced yesterday settled the tax challenge for the years 2009-10 to 2013-14.
As part of the agreement, the Palisades mall will generate $21 million in taxes for the next four years — down from the approximately $23.4 million a year the mall currently pays —and its assessment will remain unchanged for the following three years. The mall will not have the ability to challenge its assessment for the life of the seven-year agreement.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack said. “All parties feel this was in the best interest of the Clarkstown school district and the Town of Clarkstown.”
The town will finance its share of the refund through a serial bond and the school district will withdraw $13 million from its reserves. That leaves $1 million in the tax certiorari reserve fund, said John LaNave, assistant superintendent of business, facilities and fiscal management.
As of mid-May, the town and school district had spent $1.14 million to fight the Palisades Center’s certiorari.
As the economy and real estate market tanked, more businesses filed lawsuits claiming their property values were too high. The lack of updated assessments in the region have strengthened their cases.
Monday’s agreement with the Palisades mall angered some taxpayers.
“The mall is doing an expensive renovation. That means they have the money,” said Steven Levine of Congers.