GENESEO – Five business entities that own land in Livingston County have, in recent weeks, filed tax certiorari cases in Livingston County Supreme Court. In the filings, the entities argue properties they own are worth much less than the dollar value town assessors have placed on them.
Should the entities’ efforts prove successful and the value of their property be lowered to the extent they’re seeking in court filings, it would cut the value of property in the county by more than $16.5 million and slash local tax revenues by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Barilla is seeking the deepest cut in terms of dollars of the five cases reviewed by the County News. The pasta company, which in 2019 recorded an annual profit of about $299 million against revenues of more than $4 billion, is challenging the assessed value of its factory and distribution center on Horseshoe Boulevard in Avon. The facility, which cost about $100 million to construct in 2007, has an assessed value of $15.3 million, according to county property tax records. Barilla claims the property, which sits on nearly 50 acres on the northern edge of the village of Avon, is only worth $7.35 million.
Such a cut in valuation, were it to occur, would be most keenly felt by the Avon School District. Under the terms of a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement between the district, Barilla, town and village of Avon and Livingston County, the district has received annual payments of about $400,000 from Barilla for the past several years, said Superintendent Ryan Pacette. If Barilla’s assessment were reduced by the nearly $8 million the company is seeking, the district’s annual PILOT payment would essentially be cut in half, to about $200,000.
Such a cut would be “devastating” to the district’s finances, said Pacette.
Avon Town Supervisor Dave LeFeber said the town has retained attorneys to represent the town and its assessor in the tax certiorari case. Asked whether the cost to contest Barilla’s challenge in court will play a role in the town’s decision-making, LeFeber said it will lean on the advice of its lawyers, who he said have a lot of experience in such cases.
“We’ve got to weigh the costs and things but we have to be responsible to all our taxpayers,” LeFeber said. “...It’s our responsibility to be fair and equitable to everybody, all our taxpayers.”
Tami Snyder, the town of Avon assessor, and a Barilla spokesperson declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Also in Avon, Morgan Avon Apartments, LLC is trying to reduce the assessed value of three parcels of land totaling about 10 acres that comprise a large portion of the Avon Commons apartment complex off Hoesmer Street, near Tops. The three parcels are assessed at a total value of $6.23 million. The LLC claims the properties are worth $623,000, one tenth their assessed value.
The County News reached out to Morgan for comment. A public relations firm responded, saying “Morgan Properties has a corporate policy of not discussing ongoing litigation.”
Other tax certiroari cases recently filed in Livingston County Supreme Court are outlined below.
In the village of Mount Morris, Allied Frozen Storage is seeking to reduce the assessed value of two parcels of land totaling about 9.7 acres off Lackawanna Avenue next to Francis Bellamy Memorial Park by 90 percent. The two parcels’ total assessed value is $960,700. Allied Frozen Storage claims they’re worth $96,070.
Also in Mount Morris, Mayo Plaza LLC is seeking to reduce the assessed value of the commercial plaza at 15 East State St., which until recently housed the Save-a-Lot grocery store, by 90 percent, from $955,000 to $95,500.
And in Geneseo, DEN Geneseo LLC is seeking to reduce the value of its property at 4240 Lakeville Rd., which used to house Denny’s, from $2.28 million to $1 million.
All five cases are still pending in Livingston County Supreme Court.