The Lakeland Central School District will be paying out a big chunk of money to property owners who have challenged their assessments in court and won.
Board of Education members voted on the court-ordered settlements at a recent meeting and will pay a total of $117,476.04 to two properties.
The biggest chunk of the money is being returned to the Hollow Brook Mews Townhouses, a condominium complex in Cortlandt Manor. Assistant Superintendent for Business Ray Morningstar said the development will receive $103,916.48 for over-assessments for the years 2009 through 2012.
Pike Plaza Associates, a small mall at 2050 East Main St. in Cortlandt, will receive a refund of $13,559.56 Morningstar said this over-assessment was due to "long standing significant vacancies at the property."
Those lawsuits, which property owners fight in court, are called tax certioraris. If the court finds the property was/is over-assessed and orders a reduction, then the school districts and towns are hit with a double-whammy. They must issue a refund for past years' over-assessments and can collect lower taxes from that property in the future. The lower assessment goes on the tax rolls.
Lakeland school officials said money to pay for those refunds had been set aside in anticipation of the tax settlements.
School Board President Elizabeth Kogler said she did not like having to vote on the refunds, but it didn't matter how board members voted, the refunds still had to be issued.
"I just want to make sure everyone is aware, if you give back to one, you have to take it from another to cover," said Carol Ann Dobson, vice president of the board. "So it winds up costing everybody else in the district more money. It’s not like we begrudge giving people money back."
Board members James B. Carroll, Jr. and Glen Malia voted against the refunds.
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