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Record staffers bring you information on the comings and goings of New York's Collar City.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finance Committee meeting leftovers

Last Thursday's City Council Finance Committee meeting was fairly eventful, with controversy over the demolition of the former City Hall site and changes to the city's curfew law getting the most attention. Here are some other issues that were discussed:

Property value certiorari proceedings
Once every month or so, there is an ordinance approving the settlement of certiorari proceedings over challenged property values. This month, there are five on the agenda.

City Assessor Tina Dimitradis and Corporation Counsel Charles Sarris have both said that, when property owners challenge the assessed value of their home or business, the Assessor's Office lacks up-to-date data to properly defend itself, resulting in these settlements. All of the settlements result in a reduced property value assessment for the challenger, meaning their taxes will also be reduced.

Dimitradis has said that there have been 59 certiorari proceedings this year to date, and 13 proceedings through small claims court. According to Dimitriadis, the city could lose $175,000 in property taxes if all certioraris are lost.

At Thursday's meeting, Sarris said he believes the certiorari proceedings regarding property values will be reduced after the city-wide reassessment -- or the city will at least have a fighting chance against them, instead of having to settle.

"Mini-dorms" moratorium
An ordinance is on the table to once again extend the moratorium regarding "the subdivision of residential structures; the conversion of garages, carriage houses or secondary structures to residential units; [and/or] the increase in the number of bedrooms in an existing residential unit" for an additional six months.

The moratorium would be in effect from September 30, 2010 through March 31, 2011. The ordinance was originally drafted by Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5, in 2008 as a way to prevent absentee landlords from subdividing houses into multiple apartments, particularly those rented to college students.

The moratorium survived a veto and an Article 78 lawsuit and continues to be extended every six months while "issues surrounding the need for this moratorium are studied and permanent changes are made to Chapter 285," according to the legislation.

Hudson River/Champlain Canal Dredging
According to Sarris, New York State has requested that Troy vote on a resolution in support of navigational dredging of the river and canal, official recommending that "it is appropriate and cost-effective to the citizens of New York State to address Hudson River/Champlain Canal navigational dredging needs which are identified in certain areas within the proposed federal PCB remediation action concurrently with said remediation action to assure the timely restoration of safe boat navigation on the upper Hudson River area."

Whew. Sarris said he wasn't sure why NYS requested the resolution, other than a symbolic gesture that municipalities are on board.

Also: The owners of Tire Warehouse on River Street want to purchase a parcel of city-owned property across the street for $55,000 and some apparently routine budget transfers within the Water and Sewer Funds have been proposed.

The next regular City Council meeting will take place on Thursday, October 7.

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