Settlement reached in Ralcorp assessment

After several weeks of being in contention, a settlement has been reached regarding the assessment of a major business in the village of Fredonia.

On the 2014 roll, Ralcorp Holdings Inc. will pay taxes on $1,514,941 of assessed value for 14 properties on Main, Newton and Clinton streets, including buildings at The Carriage House. This is a reduction of about $200,000 from the 2013 roll, which dictated Ralcorp needed to pay taxes on $1,717,850 of assessed value for the same properties.

Ralcorp Holdings filed a notice of petition and petition with Chautauqua County in late July for an assessment reduction. This was a re-filing of a similar petition in 2012, which resulted in the assessment being reduced to the $1.7 million figure.

“The first filing was started last year, 2012, and they re-filed for 2013, but actually, the settlement occurred at the time they had to re-file, so that’s why they re-filed,” Pomfret Town Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro said. “The petitioner, Ralcorp, waived the refunds from the 2012 year, so there’s no refund from the 2012 roll.”

Fredonia Village Administrator Richard St. George previously told the OBSERVER that for every $1 million of assessed value, the village currently gains about $34,000 of taxation. That means the village will now collect about $6,800 less on Ralcorp’s taxes.

In the original petition, Ralcorp Holdings sought an assessment reduction from $2,485,250 to about $126,000, factoring in Pomfret’s 20.21 percent equalization rate.

“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 stated. “Upon information and belief, the full market value of Petitioner’s real property is $624,000.”

According to Pomfret Assessor Kevin Muldowney, the settlement was reached late last week. Pomfret is the assessing authority for Fredonia.

The OBSERVER contacted Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe for a comment on the assessment reduction, but said that was the first time he had heard of any settlement.

“I will talk to the village administrator and crunch the numbers with him before I give any official comment regarding the matter,” he said.

According to the petition, Ralcorp’s case was to be taken up by the Supreme Court of the state of New York at Mayville on Sept. 18. This means the settlement was reached about two weeks in advance of that date.

Ralcorp Holdings is owned by ConAgra Foods, Inc.

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