More Than $175,000 Spent On Annexation Case

FALCONER — The town of Ellicott, village of Falconer and the Falconer Central School District have expended more than $175,000 on the annexation case against the city of Jamestown.

The annexation case started in January 2017 when the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities asked the Jamestown City Council to initiate annexation proceedings for the Dow Street substation, which is currently located in the village of Falconer in the town of Ellicott along the city border.

To date the Falconer Central School District has spent $112,930, said Stephen Penhollow, Falconer Central School District superintendent. The village of Falconer has appropriated $51,997.34 through the end of May, with June, July and August billing yet to be determined, according to Anna Fales, village clerk.

The town of Ellicott has allocated $12,060, according to a report by WRFA. The total cost, to date, for all three is $176,987.34.

Penhollow said officials from the three entities determined how much each would pay for law firm Harris Beach based on the percentage of taxes that will be lost if the BPU substation is annexed into Jamestown.

On Monday, the BPU approved an additional $110,000 in legal fees for the annexation case, which was the third change order since the board originally approved $40,000 to hire Bond, Schoeneck and King of Syracuse in January 2017.

The first increase in legal fees was in August 2017 when the BPU allocated an additional $60,000. The second change order was in January when the BPU approved an additional $70,000 for annexation legal fees. With the newest increase for anticipated legal fees for the rest of the year, the BPU has allocated a total of $280,000 toward the annexation of the Dow Street substation.

In August 2017, the city passed a resolution approving of the annexation. The village of Falconer and town of Ellicott voted against the annexation in September 2017, which leaves the annexation decision being up to the state Supreme Court Appellate Division in Rochester.

Officials in Falconer and Ellicott have publicly stated they are against the annexation proposal because it would cost them tax revenue. Currently, the BPU pays a total around $325,000 in property tax payments to the village of Falconer ($69,000); town of Ellicott ($34,000); Falconer Central Schools ($154,000); and Chautauqua County ($69,000).

If the annexation is approved, the BPU would save around $157,000 in property tax payments annually and the city and the Jamestown Public School District would each start to receive tax equivalency payments of around $79,000 from the BPU.

Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said following the Jamestown City Council meeting Monday that a preparation meeting with a three-member tribunal will be held in September and then a more formal meeting will be held with the panel in October. He said the three-member tribunal will then create a report that will be given to the five-members of the Fourth Department Supreme Court Appellate Division in Rochester who will rule on the case. He added that no court date for oral arguments with the Appellate Division has been set.

Teresi said he is hopeful a decision on the annexation case will be made by the Appellate Division in early 2019.