Ralcorp seeks $2.4 million assessment reduction

A major business in the village of Fredonia is seeking a reduction of nearly $2.4 million in its assessment.

During the regular meeting of the Fredonia Village Board on Monday, a resolution was passed forwarding a notice of petition and petition from Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. to the town of Pomfret, which is the assessing authority for the village of Fredonia.

The petition regarded a review of a tax assessment for 14 village properties in Fredonia that are owned by Ralcorp, including buildings at The Carriage House.

“The valuation and assessments as they appear on the assessment roll is unequal, as the assessments have been made at a higher percentage of value than the assessed value of other real property,” the petition reads. “Upon information and belief, the full market value of Petitioner’s real property is $624,000.”

With the equalization rate in the town of Pomfret being 20.21 percent, Ralcorp claims the assessed value of its properties should be about $126,000. Tentatively, Ralcorp would pay taxes on about $2.5 million of assessed property for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, since the Pomfret Board of Assessment Review refused to change the properties’ assessments.

That would be a dramatic decrease in the amount of taxes that could be collected by the village and town, as well as Chautauqua County and the Fredonia Central School District. According to Village Administrator Richard St. George, for every $1 million of assessed value, the village currently gains about $34,000 of taxation. That means the village would collect about $80,000 less if Ralcorp’s desired assessment is put into effect.

Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe said this reduction would impact every taxing entity in the immediate area, especially Fredonia.

“This is not a new thing for us, since we’ve gone through this with Walmart and a number of other businesses and homeowners. This is kind of a routine thing,” he said.

Pomfret Supervisor Donald Steger said the town would be the least-impacted entity out of those affected. He also said he did not want to say too much about the case since it is still in litigation with the town.

Factoring in the current town of Pomfret tax rate within the village, Pomfret would collect about $10,000 less.

Fredonia School Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said he would be meeting with attorneys today to get a better sense as to how the school will be affected if the reduction were to go through. More information will be given in Thursday’s OBSERVER.

With a petition filed, the assessment reduction case will be taken up by the Supreme Court of the state of New York at Mayville.

Ralcorp Holdings is owned by ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Comments may be sent to gfox@observertoday.com