Essex County Board of Supervisors
The town of Essex is looking to their namesake county to help them with water woes.
Supervisor Sharon Boisen asked for a resolution during the Dec. 16 Finance Committee meeting to allow the town of Essex to purchase a property located at 288 School Street from Essex County for the cost of back taxes in the amount of $41,950.32.
Boisen said the town wanted to use the property as a site for a new water treatment facility.
“The town wants to have the land for use as a water treatment facility,” Boisen said. “We have not been able to find another site for a well or a treatment facility and the property is located in close proximity to mains and the wastewater treatment plant. We would only need it if we indeed have no other property for the water treatment facility.”
The property has been foreclosed on by the county and is currently under their ownership. It would be one of the potential properties up for auction at the Essex County property sale schedule for April 30.
The property is assessed at around $186,000, which made County Attorney Daniel Manning question if the property would not be more valuable to the county through the sale process.
“This is similar to Mr. Moore’s request,” Manning said. North Hudson Supervisor Roger Moore approached the county last month about a land swap for former Frontier Town land in a resolution that was eventually tabled.
“You need to consider the value of the property if it is assessed at $186,000,” Manning added. “You have a property and it does have value to it which is something that the board would have to take under consideration.”
Boisen said the assessment was not reflective of the current condition of the property.
“An appraisal would be no where near where the assessment is,” she said. “I honestly believe that this property would not be sold in a tax sale. It is not a desirable location.”
Finance Committee chair Tom Scozzafava said he felt towns should pay for the back taxes in any land swap.
“We have had these discussions through the years,” Scozzafava said. “I think that interest and penalties should be dropped but the towns should be responsible to pay the taxes that go with it.”
“I would think that there would be funds available for land acquisition,” Boisen said.
Some supervisors questioned the request.
“I would want to know that there is no other option available,” Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said. “If I am convinced that there is absolutely no other place for this plant to go, then maybe I will consider it.”
“I do not know how I go back to my taxpayers and say that I voted to give a property to the taxpayers of Essex after asking them to pay for a new piece of property in Westport for a water system,” Supervisor Dan Connell said.
“I do not think they should be given away for free but we need to have a way to be made whole through the back taxes,” Elizabethtown Margaret Bartley said.
“I think the way to make it fair is to make the town responsible for the taxes,” Scozzafava added.
Boisen said that the need for the property was stated through the state Department of Health.
“The Health department says that we need a new plant, so we need a new plant,” Boisen said. “The tribunal order from the Department of Health expresses our need for this, not a desire. If we do not need the land, then it would revert back to the county.”
Manning said the board should take a look at all options.
“If this is a dump and you are not going to get anything for it and it will benefit the town, you may want to consider something,” he said. “Then again, if it is a property that has some value to it then you might want to think about it.”
The resolution for the land sale was withdrawn after the discussion pending more information on the matter.