By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The city’s law department is recommending that the city council pass a resolution that will give it the authority to execute a settlement with Niagara Falls Redevelopment that would see the long-vacant turtle building reassessed at a value $600,000 less than it is now by the city assessor’s office.
The settlement would see the taxable value of the building fall from $1.5 million to $900,000 and would require the city to repay the company the difference in the tax rates from 2011 and 2012.
Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson said that the settlement was “in the city’s best interest,” but declined to elaborate.
He then referred a Gazette reporter to First Deputy Corporation Counsel Thomas O’Donnell, who Johnson said was handling the case.
O’Donnell did not return calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.
The company sued the city in New York State Supreme Court and will pay almost $19,000 less in taxes this year and will be repaid over $37,000 for the last two tax years if the city settles.
Roger Trevino, the company’s executive vice president, did not return calls seeking comment on Friday.
City Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian said he hadn’t had time to review the settlement closely when reached by phone on Friday afternoon, but that he had some questions for the law department.
“We want to make sure this is a good deal for the city,” he said.
Choolokian said if the law department says that the case will be costly to litigate and the city is not in a good position to win, the settlement may be the best route to take.
“We could end up losing money,” he explained. “Why waste all that time if it’s going to end up costing us more?”
Mayor Paul Dyster said that he trusts the law department’s judgement.
“Obviously a lot of factors go into settling on a number,” he said.
Dyster said the city council may go into executive session at Tuesday’s meeting where they will be given the information they need to make a good decision.
“Ultimately it’s up to council to decide what they want to do,” the mayor said.
Glenn Choolokian Looking at deal