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Plattsburgh Mayor Offers Town A Settlement In PILOT Dispute

Plattsburgh City Council meets on September 12, 2019
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Plattsburgh City Council meets on September 12, 2019

In 2018, the city of Plattsburgh filed a lawsuit against the Town of Plattsburgh in a dispute over a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement. At Thursday evening’s Common Council meeting, the city’s mayor announced that he had offered a settlement to the town.
A 1992 PILOT, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes, agreement between the city and town calls for the city to share the tax receipts. But in March 2018 the city filed suit against the town claiming a breach of contract had occurred and money was owed to the city. The town countersued two months later.

Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read announced Thursday that a settlement offer had been sent to the town.  “I developed with the assistance of legal counsel and our outside legal counsel a settlement offer with regard to some of the issues we’ve been working through  with the town.”

Read did not divulge details of the offer but explained that while there’s no money involved it includes expanding shared services between the city and town.  “This was driven primarily in just trying to resolve the Falcon Seaboard and wrapping up other things that we could give to them in return. We’ve always taken the position that we’d like to offer them as many of our facilities as possible when it makes sense like water. We already have a sewer agreement with them. And we just see so many avenues for collaboration and discussion. You know I view this not in terms of politics but in terms of business. You know what makes good business sense for two municipalities in the ways they can collaborate. And the town and the city we obviously want the region to thrive so much commonality there that I think it’s time to really have some serious discussions.”

Read clarified the offer is separate from an annexation effort to obtain a parcel of land from the town near Rugar Street.  “We would like some clarity on the Rugar Street annexation but this was driven primarily in just trying to resolve the Falcon Seaboard and wrapping up other things that we could give to them in return.” (“Why now?”) “Well I’ve been harboring hopes for years now of sitting down just negotiating but in the absence of that I felt it was just really healthy just to put something on paper so they know precisely the range of things that we feel we can negotiate successfully with them.”

At the same time the mayor was unveiling the settlement offer, the Plattsburgh Town Board was meeting in executive session to review it. Town Supervisor Michael Cashman was surprised to receive the proposal and was reserved in his response.  “You know haven’t had the opportunity to really digest what’s being proposed or the merits or the motivations by the mayor.  Second, the document that he has sent over is, for lack of better terms, in legalese. Our town attorney is not here tonight. So I can’t respond to that until I have the opportunity to speak with our town attorney. It was not a document that I was expecting so we’ll see where this goes.”

Cashman also would not discuss details of the offer and said it’s too early to determine if it’s acceptable. He noted that the full town board must scrutinize it in conjunction with the town’s attorney.  “I’m not prepared to address terms of settlement. We have had limited, though we have had, discussions after the city of Plattsburgh positioned itself by lawyering up. Our town board needs more time with it.  You know the town board is the respective decision makers. It’s not just going to go to the town attorney for the Caesar’s up or down thumb of support or denial. But we are certainly going to do this in consultation and get his review.”

Standing nearby, Town Board member Tom Wood agreed.  “We need to discuss this. We need to go through it and we need to have our counsel.”

Details of the city’s settlement offer have not been revealed.  Both the Town Board and the city’s Common Council would have to approve the proposal.

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