Palatine hiring appraisal firm in trailer park suit


For the C-S-EPALATINE BRIDGE — The hiring of an appraisal firm was approved by members of the Palatine Town Council last week inconnection with a company’s filing of a legal challenge in an effort to reduce their property’s taxable value.

Town Attorney Kenneth Ayers, of the Ayers Law Firm of Fort Plain, updated officials on the status of the company’s Article 7petition during the town council’s November 16 meeting. During his comments to council members, Ayers noted a settlement offerwas made on behalf of the town during a late-October conference between a judge and officials representing KZT Enterprises LLC.

The local company, which is registered with the state Department of State with an Amsterdam address, owns a mobile home parkin the town.

Ayers said the town reportedly offered a settlement with the company for the “reduction in assessed value that they asked for in thepetition.”

He alleged, “I was informed by the attorney for KZT that they didn’t mean ‘assessed value’ when they said assessed value. Theywanted a reduction in ‘market value’ to that number… which would have been a 55 percent reduction in the taxes.”

He maintained the firm’s attorney rejected any settlement offer. In Ayers’ view, no settlement is likely at this juncture.

In order to prepare for a potential trial in early May, Ayers recommended that the town hire an appraiser to inspect the disputedproperty between the scheduled dates of December 3 and January 3, 2012. Appraisal reports are due to the court by February 11,2012, he said.

Toward that end, three companies with experience with trailer park appraisals submitted proposals for council members’consideration. Among those were Armstrong Appraisals out of Clifton Park, Empire State Appraisal Company of Albany, andBryce Appraisal Service out of Cohoes.

In order to prepare the kind of report that’s needed for a trial, Ayers said the firm hired needs to appraise the value of the land, the“buildings fixed on the real estate,” improvements to the property, and each individual trailer, of which there are 17.

Following an executive session to address the firm’s selection, council members opted to hire Armstrong Appraisals at a cost of$4,600, with an additional cost of $225 per hour for court-related costs or pre-trial consultations.

By comparison, ESAC would have charged $7,500 for the same kind of report and had an hourly rate of $150 per hour; and BryceAppraisal would have charged $2,000 for the appraisal with a rate of $500 per day, Ayers said.

In other business pertaining to the attorney, Supervisor Brian Sweet asked Ayers if a multiple-year fire contract with Ephratah thatcalls for a $1,000 per year increase could or should be renegotiated in light of the state’s two percent tax cap.

Ayers said he’d have to review the contract to see if the town, which could be put in a “financial bind,” is bound by the two percenttax cap on an obligation that was negotiated before the tax cap was put in place.

He said he’d be willing to contact the entity involved to see if the town could get some relief.

Finally, a proposed law, modeled after one enacted in the town of Oppenheim and related to the harboring of excessive dogs, wasintroduced by town dog control officer Cheryl Sebastian and discussed by council members.

Because of concerns related to provisions of the ordinance, however, officials asked Sebastian to continue looking for otherlegislation on which to base a local law.

The rules were under consideration because of alleged complaints about a local kennel owner who has more than three dozencanines on his property.