Thursday, December 07, 2006

Westchester May purchase 450 Saw Mill River Rd for Bd of Elections--impact to schools major

Westchester County is considering purchasing the property located at 450 Saw Mill River Road for use by the Board of Elections. The property is located in the Ardsley School district and the unincorporated Town of Greenburgh. If the county purchases the property the property will be taken off the tax rolls. The Ardsley school district will lose $192,170.86 in taxes. This would be a significant loss of revenue to the school district and could result in substantial increases in school taxes. The town/county/fire district will lose $99,411.62.
I am urging the county to consider a pilot - providing the town/fire district/school district with the taxes that we would receive if the building is not acquired by the county. I have contacted the County Executive Andrew Spano.

26 comments:

Jim Lasser said...

Dear Mr. Feiner,
I applaud your concern for the Ardsley School District's potential loss of revenues. Why didn't you show as much concern when Midway received a reduction in assessment of more than half a million dollars, representing a loss of revenue to the Edgemont School District of more than $250,000 annually? Or when the
Town took over at 177 Hillside Avenue, reducing revenues for the Central Seven School District? In the latter case I must have missed the Town's agreement with Central Seven to make a payment in lieu of taxes - what I did see was the Town attempting to collect a certiorari payment from the School District. We need Town-wide revaluation to stop the loss of assessibles - your own blue ribbon Citizens Committee told you that in 1993. How long until you finally pay attention?

Anonymous said...

In the big picture, it's just unfortunate that the school district boundaries extend beyond the municipal boundaries. Who came up with this crazy system school districting to begin with? Only Ardsley residents should attend Ardsley schools, only Hastings residents should attend Hastings schools, etc. etc. All Greenburgh residents should attend Edgemont or Greenburgh schools - period.

Anonymous said...

Curious: What's at 450 Saw Mill River Road now?

Anonymous said...

"providing the town/fire district/school district with the taxes"

hahahaha ... yea, right, like that's gonna happen ... lol!

Anonymous said...

"Why didn't you show as much concern ..."

I believe that the supervisor lives in the Ardsley school district, and has kids who go to school there, right? (Though how the heck that section of Greenburgh is districted for Ardsley schools just makes no sense.)

Anonymous said...

Please answer question - if the property is purchased by the county - why isn't the county then responsible to pay the taxes on it - if it were purchased for residential or commercial development wouldn't the purchasers be responsible to pay the taxes? Am I missing something here - why does the property drop off the tax rolls/

Anonymous said...

Paul....the county should look at its own facilities.County government is getting out of hand...we were promised reductions in taxes and they just keep going up. Even if they were to pay taxes on the property they would still be using OUR money. We will eventually be taxed out of our village. Sell the property to a private concern. Sounds too much like a back room deal.

Anonymous said...

Hal Samis, the usually vocal Feiner supporter would say, the property owner has a right to sell the property to whomever he wants. But because he is s Feiner supporter he isnt say anything.

What happened to Central Ave moratorium? Samis didnt like it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon that the property owner should have the right to sell property, but to me it only seems fair that the county keep their offices in White Plains --

1. WP, as a city, recieves much, much larger sales tax revenue than towns or villages. It can afford more tax exempt property.

2. Transportation is limited to Saw Mill River Road. Public offices should be accessible to the public.

this is not a good idea

Anonymous said...

To Jim Lasser: Paul Feiner is the only member of the Town Board who came up with a plan to provide the Central 7 School district with taxes. He wanted to sell half of the abandoned town hall to Sunrise. The town would have generated revenue. The Central 7 schoool district would have generated taxes every year. The library would have been expanded, costing the taxpayers of Greenburgh half of what we are paying now.

Oh no, not sunrise again said...

Selling the old town hall to the client of Feiner's largest contributor at a sweetheart price, without even bothering to get an appraisal, which is precisely what Feiner tried to do in supporting the sale to Sunrise, would not have been in the best interest of the town, the library or Central 7, whose families very much need an expanded library within walking distance of the one that's currently there - which is one reason why Central 7 families supported the library referendum so strongly and opposed Feiner's plan to kill it. In hindsight, Feiner should have been ashamed of himself for supporting that smarmy Sunrise deal, and for reacting so angrily when town council members pulled the plug on it.

Paul Feiner said...

I would never have recommended selling town property to Sunrise at a price below the appraised value. We were in the process of negotiating with Sunrise - we did not have a proposed contract. Besides negotiating a purchase price - we were also trying to persuade them to donate landscaping to the town and to make other donations to the library expansion project, that could have reduced taxpayer costs.

Anonymous said...

Having worked at this year's elections, the County Bd. of Elections representatives explained that there are lots of changes afoot due to the changes in the Election laws. Greenburgh no longer pays the poll workers; the County does. The County does the training rather than Greenburgh doing it. Also, the County is now responsible for storage and maintainance of all of the voting machines. The voting machines are why the County needs a big space, i.e., the Saw Mill River Rd. property. I'm not sure how many spaces White Plains has that would fulfill the BoE needs.

Not so Paul said...

Feiner is playing games with words when he says there was no proposed contract with Sunrise. Sunrise had submitted a bid of just under $3 million after Feiner put out a request for proposal to develop the site. In March 2004, Feiner sought authority from the town board to negotiate the contract's final details. At the same time, brokers were saying that the property was probably worth as much as double what Sunrise had bid. Residents asked Feiner at a town board meeting to produce an appraisal showing that the price was fair and were told to take a hike. Turns out that Feiner didn't have an appraisal when he asked for authority to finalize the deal and he therefore didn't know whether the price was fair. The March 2004 date is significant because that was when the lawyer representing Sunrise in its negotiations with the town held a fundraiser for Feiner that raised over $30,000.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1:30 --

so has the county looked anywhere else like YOnkers

1. rents??

2. Yonkers get sales tax revenue -- ardlsy/greenburgh gets minimal

Anonymous said...

To NOt SO Paul...If Feiner asked the Board for permission "to negotiate" that means there was no final arrangement. "To negotiate" is not the same as "to sign an agreement", "to execute an agreement" or "to hold hearings on an agreement. The value of the town hall property is also dependent on what is allowed to be built at the site. Commerical is valued at more than residential. Height of buildings also is a factor. Feiner's initiative would have generated annual tax revenue for the Central 7 school district and would have helped to keep our tax bills (especially those in the Central 7 district) lower.

Sunrise truthteller said...

Once the town put out a request for proposal, received a bid, and accepted it, as was the case with Sunrise, the town had an agreement with Sunrise to bargain in good faith to reach agreement on the final details. Consistent with that agreement, the resolution Feiner sought in March 2004 (at the request by the way of Sunrise's counsel, his largest contributor) would have authorized him, as supervisor, to conclude those final negotiations with a signed agreement. Such agreement would of course have been subject to town board approval so no deal is a done deal legally speaking until that occurs, but that's not the point once the town reached agreement in principle, which here it had.

However, before the resolution could be voted on, questions were being raised about the price, the lack of an appraisal and about the RFP itself which, it turned out to everyone's surprise, locked the town into only a very modest increase in the library's size. The agreement with Sunrise would thus have severely limited any plan to expand the library.

Once these facts came to light, Sunrise, through its counsel, thankfully withdrew the bid.

Anonymous said...

I am not a lawyer but I know that there is no agreement until the Board approves an agreement. Asking for permission to negotiate is far, far, far from an approved deal.

Old legal proverb said...

When the law is against you, you argue the facts; when the facts are against you, you argue the law. When the facts and the law are against you, you pound the table.

On the matter of Sunrise, Feiner's supporters (or Feiner himself bloggin anonymously) have no answer to the showing that the town issued an RFP, that it received a bid from Sunrise of just under $3 million, that Sunrise's bid was accepted, that Sunrise was represented by Feiner's largest contributor, that Feiner had asked the town board for authority to negotiate the final terms at the same time that Sunrise's counsel held a fundraiser for Feiner that raised more than $30,000, that brokers at the time were saying the property was worth much more than Sunrise's bid, and that Feiner, in recommending to the town board that he be given authority to negotiate final terms, did not have an appraisal and thus never really knew what the property was worth.

If all Feiner (or his supporters) can say in response is that Sunrise was "far, far, far" from an approved deal, they are pounding the table.

The whole transaction smelled from start to finish and every time Feiner (or his supporters) bring it up, as they still do from time to time, those who were involved and know the true facts will speak up.

Anonymous said...

And why hasnt Hal Samis weighed in on this question? Is it that is support of the rights of property owners is trumped by his support of Feiner? He still seems to be actively blogging. So quick to put down a Central Avenue moratorium -- so slow to give us thoughts on this property.

Paul Feiner said...

I resent the anonymous accusations that imply that I would have supported selling property that the town owns below the true value of the property. I would never have agreed to sell Sunrise the Old Town Hall at a sweatheart price - below its value. During the negotiations that I was involved in the offer kept getting better and better. I was trying to not only get a great price for the property. I also was trying to persuade Sunrise to donate landscaping services to the town and to help us with the construction at their expense. I wanted to get a great deal for the town - just like the Town Hall ($6.8 million dollars, including furniture/phone system for the entire property/building).

Thems the facts said...

Feiner wants us to believe he would never had sold the old town hall for a sweetheart price and to prove how fiscally smart he is, he tells us that he spent only $6.8 million (furniture and phone included) for the new town hall at 177 Hillside. However, before Feiner got into the act, the owner of 177 Hillside had already signed a letter of intent to sell the proprety to a third party for only $5.5 million. And the actual amount authorized for the town's purchase in 2002 was not $6.8 million, as Feiner says, but $7.9 million. So, thanks to Feiner, a building that was originally under contract to be sold for $5.5 million, ended up costing the town $7.9 million. And that $7.9 million doesn't include the side tax deals Feiner negotiated (through former tax assessor Iagallo) that gave the seller hundreds of thousands more in tax cert refunds, funded mostly by Central 7 taxpayers. And on top of that was the $40,000 that Feiner insisted be paid to a law firm, not for any town legal services, but as a reward for first suggesting that the town kill the seller's $5.5 million deal and offer more money.

So, based on all that, why should anyone believe Feiner when he says he would never have sold the old town hall property for a sweetheart price? The Sunrise story, which is well documented, is so bad that when residents asked the town to fund an appraisal so that the town would actually know what the property was worth, Feiner opposed the idea.

Paul Feiner said...

Anonymous might think we overpaid for the Town Hall ($6.8 million). Very few other people agree. This was a bargain. Can you think of any other 48,000 square foot building that can be purchased for less than $7 million -with furniture and phone systems?
The Town Hall was built in the 1990s for 12 million. We purchased the building at a price SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW the price the building originally cost! The company that originally was going to purchase the Town Hall building was also going to get a great deal from the seller: the company was going to buy the building and then rent the 2nd floor to the seller. In effect, the building would be purchased for almost free!

Town Hall Truthteller said...

Sorry Paul, but there's no way to know whether you paid a fair price because, like with Sunrise, you were in such a hurry to get the 177 Hillside purchase done, you never had any pre-purchase appraisal that would have told you and the town's taxpayers what the going rate at that time was for an office building of that size in that part of town.

So, what we taxpayers were left with is your cheerleading that the deal must have been good because it was purchased for less than what it cost in the 1990s to build. I guess if you say it loud and often enough, like the big lie, people will believe it.

Even more astounding - and disturbing to taxpayers - is your statement that the company that agreed to pay only $5.5 million for the building had a deal to lease back the second floor and, in your words, purchase the building "for almost free."

Greenburgh didn't need that second floor either and is now leasing it at a bargain basement rate to a credit union. I'm not complaining about the tiny amount of rent, I'm assuming you got the best deal you could, but if you're right, that the company that originally planned to purchase in 2002 would have gotten the building "for almost free" by leasing back the second floor demonstrates that Greenburgh's paying $7.9 million (or, if you like, even $6.8 million) was probably way too much.

Knowing all this, one can now understand why you kept issuing press releases touting that the building was built for $12 million. I've even got some old campaign literature of ours saying the building was really worth $20 million.

The true facts, based on your own admission in this blog, was apparently very much at odds with that because why else would a willing seller with no gun to his head have essentially been willing in 2002 to sell, as you say, "almost for free"? It certainly isn't because he feels the building is worth $20 million, $12 million, $7.9 million, or even the price the town says it paid of $6.8 million.

You may have certain talents, but after spending 30 years in public office, it seems buying and selling valuable real estate at taxpayer expense is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

While I do not know all the details of the purchase of the new Town Hall, I know that it is impossible to build another building like it for the same price that the Town paid. I also know that it is in an ideal location for the Town. I also know that the innuendos, and the not so innuendo comments that the anon. blogger above is continuing to enter is particularly unhelpful. THE PURCHASE IS IN THE PAST AND THE TOWN OF GREENBURGH HAS SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE FUTURE. Move on already.

Anonymous said...

That anonymous blogger who seemed to know an awful lot about the purchase of the new town hall was merely reacting to some self-serving statements by the supervisor about what a great job he did.

If the supervisor felt it was okay to talk about the past like that, why is it not okay for a blogger, anonymous or otherwise, to say no Paul, it didn't happen that way?

If W says we've so far done a great job in Iraq, is it not okay to point out that he's lost touch with reality? I didn't think so.

If Paul wants to boast about the past, he's got to answer for it too.