The Three Village Central School District could receive thousands of dollars in tax payments from Stony Brook University for property that was previously taken off the public tax rolls and from the new Hilton Garden Inn.
That was among the revelations at Tuesday's school board meeting, during which board vice president Jonathan Kornreich led a discussion about the significance of both the hotel's lease and a piece of state legislation enacted in 2005 concerning SUNY's annexing of Gyrodyne property via eminent domain that year.
Kornreich said he reviewed those documents and found the potential exists for the district to receive more money. While any such tax payments wouldn't become revenue that would directly ease the district's current financial situation, it would still provide relief for taxpayers.
After SUNY annexed much of the Flowerfields property via eminent domain in 2005, the state passed a bill that guaranteed property taxes would continue to be paid on the formerly commercially-zoned land that had come off the school district's tax rolls.
"[That legislation] is supposed to hold harmless, that the rest of the taxpayers aren’t going to be carrying the freight for that," Kornreich said.
However, the state recently lost a lawsuit brought by Gyrodyne that claimed SUNY drastically undervalued the land when it paid Gyrodyne $26.3 million; the court re-valued the land at $125 million and Gyrodyne received a settlement of $167.5 million (including damages and interest) as a result.
Since Stony Brook already pays $175,756 annually in school taxes on that annexed property based on its previous value of $26.3 million, Kornreich said since the property now has a much higher assessed value as a result of the lawsuit, the school district is owed an estimated $834,841 per year – approximately $660,000 more per year.
Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, explained it this way: "That would be picked up by them and the rest of the taxpayers would see their tax bills go down."
Asked for comment, a Stony Brook University spokesman said the administration will review the legislation, and issued this statement: "The university and representatives of the hotel are working with the town regarding any potential assessments."
The hotel, which is a privately owned entity leasing the land from the state, is the benefactor of a lease granted by the state in 1989. A section of the lease states: "Tenant shall also pay or cause to be paid any real property taxes lawfully assessed against the demised premises or an amount equal to and in lieu of any and all such real property taxes, as well as special district assessments, in the manner and to the extent provided for in the enabling act."
"That’s pretty clear that we are due property taxes," Kornreich said.
Hotel management could not immediately be reached for comment.
It was not immediately clear how long it would take to see the effects of these potential payments from the hotel and from the university.
Three Village school administrators said the district's next steps include reaching out to the town's tax assessor and asking its attorneys to draft letters to the university administration and hotel management.
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