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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 26, 2008

Walgreens worth less green

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Walgreens is worth half-a-million dollars less than what it was originally assessed for, since the town board settled last week with the company in a split party-line vote.

After a 10-minute discussion in an executive session, Republican Councilman Warren Redlich said, the Democratic majority voted to adjust the assessment according to the company’s terms.  “In other words,” he said, “we gave them everything they asked for.  We didn’t negotiate anything.”

Guilderland’s attorney, Richard Sherwood, who was puzzled as to why he was being asked about the settlement yesterday, said that negotiations had taken months. 

“I don’t think it’s wise to publicly disclose our strategy,” Sherwood said during the public town board meeting last Tuesday.  He was vehement that the issue should be discussed in closed session.  Since the agreement had been made, and both sides — the town and Walgreens — were aware of the terms, Redlich argued that it should be discussed in public, to which Sherwood answered, “The public, at any time, can be the other side.”

Democratic Councilman Paul Pastore made a motion in short order to enter executive session, which was carried 4 to 1, with Redlich voting no.

“We didn’t have a single bit of litigation strategy in executive session,” Redlich said on Tuesday.  “So the reason for doing it behind closed doors was false.”

The state’s Open Meetings Law allows “discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation” to be held in executive session.

The other Republican on the board, Mark Grimm, voted to go into the closed session because he thought they might discuss strategy, he said yesterday, but he said of the Democrats, “The fact is, the decision had already been made and they had the three votes to carry.”  He added, “Sometimes I think they want executive sessions to hide what they’re doing.”

The final vote was 3 to 2, said Redlich; “Sherwood said, ‘This is what you should do on the deal,’” Redlich paraphrased.

The initial assessment for the drugstore recently built at the corner of routes 20 and 155 was $3.2 million and it has been reduced to $2.7 million, Redlich said at the meeting.  The value is based on income and expense statements from the store, Supervisor Kenneth Runion said yesterday.

“Carol made the recommendation, actually,” Runion said of the town’s assessor, Carol Wysomski. 

For the initial assessment, Wysomski said yesterday, she worked with the cost of buying the property and building the store, then, in 2007, Walgreens filed a grievance.  The town of Colonie had recently been through litigation for a similar assessment grievance, Runion said, and the town lost in court.  Nobody was available for comment in Colonie’s commercial assessment office yesterday. 

“We are in line with Colonie,” Wysomski said of Guilderland’s final assessment figure.

“It cost the town a whopping $134,” Sherwood said yesterday.  Wysomski quoted the same figure for what had been returned to Walgreens as a result of the reduced assessment.

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