ROCHESTER – The two sides involved in a contentious annexation case involving a piece of City of Jamestown-owned property in the Town of Ellicott/Village of Falconer will finally get their day in court today in Rochester.
The New York State 4th Appellate Division will hear arguments involving the proposed annexation of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities’ Dow Street Substation property.
In early 2017 the BPU announced it was looking into the possibility of the annexation and by June of that year a public hearing was held. Two months later in August, the Jamestown City Council unanimously approved a resolution to annex the property.
The city’s claims it is within its right to annex the property because it already owns it and a portion of it is adjacent to the city line with the village of Falconer, which sits in the town of Ellicott. The city is also claiming the annexation would be in the public interest, primarily because of public safety provided by the city’s professional fire department – should an emergency ever take place at the location. And as part of the public interest claim, the city says the annexation would help to stabilize electric rates for all of its customers – including those that live in Ellicott/Falconer.
Currently the city – through the BPU – pays approximately $325,000 annually in taxes on the property. If it were to be within Jamestown the BPU would not have to pay any taxes and would instead pay about $80,000 in PILOT payments to BOTH the city and the Jamestown School District – resulting in a net savings about at $160,000 each year.
Officials from Falconer, the Town of Ellicott, and the Falconer School District have all objected to the proposal because of the loss of tax revenue that would occur. As a result the dispute has to be settled in the state appellate court.
The BPU has committed $405,000 in legal fees toward the case. According to the Post-Journal, the sides opposing it have paid a combined $320,000. Jamestown is being represented by the law firm Bond, Schoeneck, & King while Falconer and Ellicott are being represented by Harris Beach LLC.
Once arguments are made today, the justices of the court will weigh the information provided and could bring a decision forward before the end of this month or in early May.