Ronald W. Nesbitt

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Jun 13

Xerox Seeks Lower Assessment from Webster

Posted on June 13, 2012 at 8:59 AM by PattiAnn Schultz

As you might have heard in recent months, Kodak is seeking a lower assessment from the City of Rochester. The Town of Webster has been notified that Xerox wants a lower assessment on its property here in the town and village.

In 1999 the New York State Supreme Court ordered an agreement between the town and Xerox on its assessments. This agreement expired in 2011 and now Xerox has the opportunity to seek relief through the process that all residents and business owners have to grieve their assessment. The 1999 court ordered agreement allowed the town and Xerox to settle their long standing dispute over Xerox’s assessment. The town then needed to bond over $1,610,000 payable over an eleven year period for money refunded to Xerox for any “over-assessment” of their property and all legal fees and appraisals which occurred during the many years of court time. This bond was just fully paid off in 2011.

While Xerox has every right to ask for a review of the assessment of their properties, as each resident and business owner does in Webster, it should be concerning for the average taxpayer here in Webster.

Just recently Xerox received from each of Webster’s taxpayers (in the form of income tax dollars paid to the state) a New York State subsidy from Governor Cuomo’s office of $6 million in tax credits and grants for the new Call Center in Building 200 on Phillips Road. Add to that another $ 250,000.00 from Monroe County COMDIA for exemption of sales tax on goods purchased for the Call Center, and Xerox just received from Webster taxpayers and New York State residents a total of $6.25 million in their tax dollars paid to New York State.

Now, add to that the dollars presented to Xerox in 2006 for the building of the Toner Plant. New York State, Monroe County and the Town of Webster have been instrumental in helping Xerox develop here in town and to thrive in our community. The five-story Toner Plant, approximately 135,000 square feet, has also received COMIDA dollars from Monroe County and was assessed at a mere $15 per square foot according to the court agreement in effect at that time.

Per Xerox’s own press releases, they have a, “total capital investment in the toner plant … close to $100 million” (or about $736.00 per square foot). Even in allowing that some of this may not be related to the building itself, you will understand how this arouses my concerns.

Xerox has received its portion of economic development from programs available from the State and County. The local assessment function is not meant to be an economic development program. It is to equitably distribute the taxation. Yet Xerox, which apparently needed assistance in its recent developments, is prepared to ask the Webster taxpayer to pay more in taxes so that they may have a lower assessment.
Now, my question is how does Xerox believe that lowering their assessment is helping the Webster community during these hard economic times? Is expectation of a lower assessment, which would in effect raise all residents and other business owner’s taxes, a community minded thing to do? Does Xerox really expect each taxpayer in town to take additional money out of their pocket (local taxpayer dollars) to help a profitable corporation flourish at the expense of the Webster taxpayer?

If you take a look at the three parcels in question, totaling over $80 million in current assessment Xerox pays to the Town, County, School District and Village, it is just over a total of $3.2 million in local taxes. This is just about one half of the benefit they received just this year (remember $6.2 million) for the Call Center they are opening. Now they want the Webster taxpayers, who contribute to the other four other taxing entities, to endure higher taxes at their expense.

When Xerox needs something from the Webster community they are not bashful in picking up the phone and calling town and village officials in asking for help. We in the Webster community are now asking Xerox for the same community cooperation.

As always, if you have any questions about your town government, please contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us.

Ronald W. Nesbitt
Webster Town Supervisor