MASSENA - After St. Lawrence County Legislator Donald A. Peck challenged Massena to lower the assessment on the vacant Sunrise Mall, a property that is now in the countys possession after being forclosed upon in 2011, Mayor James F. Hidy questioned why the village would reward delinquent property owners who dont pay their taxes by lowering their asessments.
As it turns out the propertys assessment had already been lowered by Massena Assessor Michael C. Ward.
Mr. Hidy said he was made aware of the assessment reduction late last week in a conversation with Mr. Ward.
Mr. Hidy noted that in 2007 when Anjum Malik purchased the mall for $135,000 it was assessed for $165,000. Four years later, Mr. Malik sought an assessment reduction, at which point the assssment was lowered to $134,000.
Mr. Ward said a propertys assessment is based on its status as of March 1, noting that on March 1, 2012 the building was occupied, with among other tenants, the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce, a boxing gym, a tattoo parlor and a hair salon all using the space.
The building became vacant approximately in October of 2012 when the chamber and other tenants left, Mr. Ward said. In 2012 this building was still occupied and rental income was possible and should have been collected. When the building became vacant the assessment was reduced.
Mr. Ward said that for the countys 2013 tax bill on the property the assessment was reduced by more than 50 percent from $134,000 to $60,000.
When asked if assessments are typically reduced on foreclosed properies, Mr. Ward said that each situation is unique, with the assessments on residential properties often remaining the same.
The Sunrise Mall is unique for a few reasons, because its so big and its a commercial property, Mr. Ward said. The county and I both know a buyer might be hard to find.
Mr. Hidy said the propertys location alone makes it valuable, even if it is vacant.
Its in a prime location. Its in the middle of our downtown. Just because of where the property alone is makes it a valuable piece of property, Mr. Hidy said, adding he feels the property is worth more than $60,000
I feel a value of $60,000 is well below what the property is actually worth, he said.
Mr. Ward said he feels the current assesment is a fair one.
I thik it is a fair assessment, he said. Hopefully someone comes along with millons of dollars and turns it into the showcase it used to be again.