We have made attempts to pay the amount we owe under the law. When the payments were not accepted by the city tax collector, we then deposited funds each year into an escrow account. We were not asked for a payment plan as stated in the article, nor would one be required as the monies put into escrow are double the amounts that are legally owed; the monies remain in escrow to this day. To say that our water and sewer bills with the City of Kingston are unpaid is another false statement attributed to Mr. O’Halloran. We remain current with Birchwood Village’s water and sewer bills (documentation attached).
Mr. Aaron did not “fail to appear before the IDA board,” because he was not required to personally attend. Birchez Associates was represented by its attorney during at least two of the recent IDA Board meetings. As a result of discussions following the September IDA board meeting, we understood Chairman O’Halloran to agree that the PILOT agreement could be appended in a manner that our counsel had previously proposed to the IDA attorney. As a result of that discussion, the matter was taken off the IDA agenda for October, and the IDA and Birchez attorneys were instructed to put together appropriate language for the clarification that had been requested. Because the IDA attorney subsequently asked for more time, Birchez readily agreed to the IDA request to extend the period during which escrow funds would be held by the IDA’s attorney.
When the draft of the language to append the PILOT agreement was provided to our attorney, there were numerous errors and inconsistencies compared to the details that had been agreed to. Over several weeks, as that draft was being prepared, discussions and meetings with City of Kingston officials were ongoing, and it appeared that we were close to a lawful resolution in the best interest of all parties. Prior to the December IDA meeting, Mayor James Sottile reached out to Chairman O’Halloran. Counsel for the city reached out to the IDA attorney, asking that the IDA Board postpone any action as good-faith discussions continued. A call was made to IDA President Matteson before the meeting to confirm that the matter was removed from the IDA Board’s agenda. Nevertheless, the IDA Board moved ahead.
With regard to the matter of foreclosure alluded to in the article, although the city shows taxes as past due, the property would not be eligible for the foreclosure process until sometime next year. The city has always had the right of foreclosure. Moreover, the city doesn’t need IDA involvement in a matter that is clearly within the City of Kingston’s domain.
As to the statement that we “have not presented a single piece of paper” to the IDA office, this is far from reality. Documentation and presentations have been prepared for the IDA and presented to Mr. O’Halloran and others for review. Two years of back and forth correspondence between the IDA attorney and our counsel has produced e-mails, letters and exhibits that could fill a file drawer.
Further, officials of the City of Kingston, in a series of recent meetings, have again confirmed a willingness to continue good-faith discussions. Rather than Birchwood Village taking “delay tactics” as alleged in the article, we have worked with the officials’ schedules at every juncture including attending a Saturday meeting to ensure all could be represented. We are well along toward bringing about a resolution. The single open issue remains how to lawfully adjust the prior years’ (2009 to 2011) over assessment.