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Town will not review drugstore assessment

A motion for additional litigation involving Walgreens on one of Guilderland's busiest intersections did not pass a vote by the Guilderland Town Board at its Thursday, Nov. 6 meeting.

Republican board members Warren Redlich and Mark Grimm raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving town attorney Richard Sherwood and the co-owner of the Walgreens, Kenneth Segel, a former business partner of Sherwood's. The store is located on the corner of routes 20 and 155.

In discussions that took place in an executive session at a June Town Board meeting, the assessor at the time, Carol Wysomski, recommended a decrease in the assessment of close to $500,000, and 3-to-2 vote by the board approved the settlement. Grimm and Redlich said Sherwood's relationship with Segel was discussed at that meeting.

The matter is still going to be brought before the town's ethics committee. Sherwood told Spotlight Newspapers in an earlier interview that he has no financial stake in the litigation or in Segel's firm.

Supervisor Kenneth Runion said discussing Sherwood's potential conflict should be held until an ethics board reviews the matter.

Your slant on the facts or my slant or any other board members' slant on the facts shouldn't be discussed here until the facts are actually investigated by the ethics board, Runion said.

"The people responsible for the ethics in this town is the town board," Grimm said.

"We're not the 'try-er' of facts on ethics," Runion disagreed.

The board discussed retaining the services of attorneys to litigate the matter, as well a court-certified appraiser.

According to the agenda for the meeting, discussions involved hiring Hacker and Murphy for $300 per hour to represent the town and assessor since and a $5,500 appraisal fee.

Estimates ranged in the overall cost of the assessment from $30,000 to $50,000 in litigation costs alone, and the overall cost could have raised the tax increase by 27 percent, Runion said.

Councilman Warren Redlich accused Runion of inflating the effects of the cost of litigation.

"What you're doing is going out there and finding the highest priced attorney you can find and the highest priced appraisal you can find to inflate the cost of defending this assessment and at the same time you're downplaying the benefit of the town taxpayers," he said.

After the board discussed the cost-benefit analysis of the litigation it did not pass a motion to fight the assessment. ""

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