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GE’s decade of tax litigation ends

County, Rotterdam and Schalmont approve agreement with 10-year PILOT

Rotterdam Supervisor Harry Buffardi on Wednesday, June 20, signs the official agreement with General Electric to bring an end to years of tax litigation and establish a PILOT agreement for the company’s properties.

Rotterdam Supervisor Harry Buffardi on Wednesday, June 20, signs the official agreement with General Electric to bring an end to years of tax litigation and establish a PILOT agreement for the company’s properties. Photo by John Purcell.

— Years of contention between the General Electric Company and Rotterdam officials over its assessment have come to a close, and local officials are hoping it brings a resurgence of investment.

The Schenectady County Legislature, Rotterdam Town Board and Schalmont Board of Education on Wednesday, June 20, voted to approve an agreement settling tax litigation claims with General Electric Company stretching back to 2003. Several officials applauded the closure as a fair agreement, with an August court date looming if negotiations failed.

“This is a great day for Rotterdam and Schenectady County,” Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Judith Dagostino said. “This agreement is a great example of how the private and public sector can work together and work together successfully.”

Under the agreement, Rotterdam is setting the assessment of the GE facilities in the town, totaling approximately 325 acres and containing 43 buildings, at $132 million from 2003 to 2011. The assessment is a reduction from the current $138 million, but increased from a 2007 tax certiorari court decision of $129 million.

Neither the town nor the county has refunded the over-assessed tax receipts ordered by the court, though Schalmont did.

Dagostino, D-Rotterdam, said the county has “worked hard” to improve its relationship with General Electric and the approved agreement helps “solidify” the relationship. The Rotterdam Town Board kicked off the string of meetings on June 20, with Schalmont following and the county convening that evening. All three were special meetings, with voting on the agreement as the sole resolution.

GE spokesperson Chris Horne said the company believes in paying its “fair share of taxes” and was pleased to have reached an agreement acceptable to local officials, which provides long-term stability.

“We need to be able to compete globally while supporting our local communities and we appreciate the opportunity to be able to work out an equitable solution that accomplished both,” Horne said in a prepared statement.

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