LIBERTY — It was announced in a press release on Tuesday afternoon that Sullivan County and its new operating consultant for the Care Center at Sunset Lake, Infinite Care Management, have …
LIBERTY — It was announced in a press release on Tuesday afternoon that Sullivan County and its new operating consultant for the Care Center at Sunset Lake, Infinite Care Management, have agreed to a deal to pay $226,000 in school taxes due on the Care Center property for 2021.
“We were in talks with the Town of Liberty about remaining tax-exempt. The Town opted to assess the tax for the first time on that property in nearly a half century,” said Legislature Chairman Robert Doherty. “We discussed this with Infinite Care, and they said they were willing to pay it.”
Town of Liberty Assessor Vanessa Kelder told the Democrat that when the County transferred ownership of the Care Center to the Sunset Lake LDC, it no longer fell under the tax exemption it had. Therefore, the exemption comes off. Kelder said Sunset Lake LDC did not apply for a new exemption on March 1, 2021.
She further explained that since it’s already past September, the tax rolls are already out and they had to pay the school taxes.
“They have every opportunity to give me an exemption that they believe they qualify for which the town does not opt into, and there’s no exemption that falls under LDC,” said Kelder. “That’s why the county’s giving the [LDC] money to pay the taxes. They’re not fighting me on it.”
Liberty Supervisor Frank DeMayo added that, “We didn’t do this to hurt the County. The assessor did what was appropriate under the law.”
Doherty explained that earlier this year, the County and the Sunset Lake Local Development Corporation (LDC) had spent a great deal of time researching and vetting a number of potential operators of the Care Center.
“We found out our partner for the next 20 years is led by people of their word, and they are going to pay the tax,” he said. “It’s a win-win – County taxpayers won’t be on the hook for this, and the Liberty Central School District will have an unexpected $226,000 more to educate our children.”
In order to avoid penalties and surcharges, the County Legislature agreed on Monday to forward the $226,000 from their general fund to the Sunset Lake LDC, which will pay the full bill by the September 30 deadline. (Legislator Nadia Rajsz abstained from the vote, as she sits on the LDC Board.)
Infinite Care will reimburse the LDC the portion of the taxes for the period Infinite Care has been and will be operating the Care Center (September 20, 2021-June 30, 2022), and the LDC will reimburse the County for the July 1, 2021-September 20, 2021.
Going forward, Infinite Care will continue to pay the taxes on the property.
“It’s important to pick good, trustworthy partners, and we have that in Infinite Care,” said Doherty.
Liberty Central School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan said the district will use these funds to continue to manage its budget.
“These are challenging times, and the cost of educating students has increased, especially with the expenses we've incurred as a result of COVID-19," he said. “This money will go a long way, and we thank the Sullivan County Legislature for its diligence in bringing these funds to our students.”
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