By: Tammy Daniels On: 12:12AM / Monday August 08, 2011
WCW has been in a dispute with the town of Hoosick, N.Y., over the value of its property on Mechanic Street. The county has brought foreclosure action against the mattress maker, which is now looking to move its operations.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A New York manufacturer considering relocating to the city is facing foreclosure in Hoosick Falls for failing to pay property taxes.
WCW Inc., a mattress manufacturer, owes Rensselaer County more than $1.4 million in back taxes and penalties dating back more than four years, the Eastwick Press, a local paper covering eastern Rensselaer, reported Friday. The company has been appealing the valuation of its One Mechanic St. property set in 2007 by the town of Hoosick and the village of Hoosick Falls.
North Adams and the state Office of Business Development have been working with the WCW to craft a tax incentive package to encourage owner John Wilkinson to move his operations — and 100 jobs — into the former Sprague Electric building in the Hardman Industrial Park.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said he and state officials were aware of what he described as a "long running dispute" between Wilkinson and Hoosick over assessments.
"He did talk to me about it," Alcombright said when reached Sunday night. "One of the reasons he did want to locate here is because he and the town of Hoosick could not come to an agreement. ... I don't know all the details. [The article] bears out what he told me."
According to Eastwick Press, the company's realty arm, J.W. Realty Co., purchased properties on Mechanic Street in Hoosick Falls for $400,000 in 2006. The purchase was described as "a sale of distress" while the properties were assessed at about $10.4 million; the company filed a grievance, which resulted in the valuation being dropped to $1.74 million (it has since jumped to $2.08 million). WCW apparently balked at that number as well and negotiations between the company and officials failed to resolve the issue.
WCW also owns another site on Route 22 and operates a call center in Bennington, Vt. Wilkinson told Eastwick Press on Wednesday he could not speak to the company's future in Hoosick Falls until next week.
On Wednesday, the North Adams Finance Committee voted to recommend to the City Council a tax incentive that would give WCW property tax breaks over the next five years and designate the Sprague property as an economic development area, allowing the mattress maker to apply for state incentives as well.
Alcombright said he planned to talk further with Wilkinson on Monday about the news reports. However, he was not "overly concerned" about WCW's dispute with Hoosick.
"The fact that he's planning on buying the building, not leasing, tells me his finances are strong and his credit is good," he said. The Sprague building is assessed at $2.2 million and Wilkinson is reportedly in negotiations to buy it. Based on that assessment, the company would get about $177,000 in tax breaks from the city.
The Rensselaer County attorney told Eastwick Press he expects a summary judgement on foreclosure in 30 to 45 days. WCW is looking to relocate all three of its operations by the end of this year, either in North Adams or to another site being looked at in Manchester, Vt.
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Did the FinCom actually vote on a formal paper presented to them by the Mayor? Normally the FinCom acts on referrals from the Council where "paper work" in the form of orders and/or resolutions etc have been first presented and recorded by the City Clerk. If there were no formal papers presented to the FinCom then they were voting to recommend hot air--that is--nothing that existed.
Did the Mayor inform the FinCom of the tax issues
in Hoosic Falls? If not and the Mayor knew about it, he was misleading the FinCom and they were flying blind with their vote.
Who actually owns the building at the Industrial Park? Has a purchase price been agree upon?
Are the "savings" of $177,000 for the life of the 5 year TIF? or something else? Are there any other local boards, commissions or authorities that have to sign off on this deal?
Alcombright: "I don't know all the details"--well isn't that his job to know all the details before he solicits a vote to recommend?
Sorry Tammy-but this -for a variety of reasons doesn't pass the smell test of due diligence and transparency--
This is the reason a lot of businesses are vacating NY fast. The taxes are incredibly high. I looked at buying a home in Hoosick Falls several years ago. My North Adams taxes at the time were under a thousand. A home with the same valuation in Hoosick had taxes of over $5,000. They have a town tax, village tax, school tax, you name it, New York taxes you through the roof. I can fully understand why this business would want to get out of NY.
The mayor did inform fincom of this issue. It's an assessment disagreement... Happens all the time. Particularly when you start out by trying to value a building above $10M when it sold for $400k. That would have represented nearly 30% of the property taxes for the town. I would have fought it too.
For example, the building they want to buy here is twice the size and 80 years younger and its valued the same as theirs.
Editor: I found it particularly interesting that while Hoosick reduced its evaluation, Hoosick Falls was still assessing the property at $14 million but setting the taxable value at $2M. I Agree (4) - I Disagree (0)
It was very wrong (especially of the Transcript) to jump ahead and tout this possible move by his business as such a big deal, especially given the early stages of discussions. There has been way too much press - again primarily in the Transcript about this issue. The mayor should NOT have disclosed this matter yet and I say shame on him and the narrow sided Transcript that is in love with Alcombright. Things are so messed up presently in this City this is yet again another possible joke on the mayor's record. What kind of business leader do we have running this City???
Editor: Ahem, iBerkshires actually covered the FinCom meeting. Second, the mayor informed the committee so that the City Council could discuss the issue this Tuesday with the anticipation of orders at the next meeting in time for the state's deadline. I Agree (7) - I Disagree (2)
Clark, you should have drove up to go to the public meeting. When you approved TIFs for Porches Inn and Jaes Inn how much details and time where you given by Barrett or was it another last minute suspension of rules without any committee meeting. Doubtful you were given the information and asked all these questions then. I've read alcohol effects the sense of smell.
The assertion that the FinCom was informed of the tax/foreclosure issue with WCW may be true- but was not reported by either news reports.
As far as Porches and Jaes-- I don;t think they went to committee-- no need to--Porches was a no brainer-- Jaes was also----however his problems in Williamstown-Adams and Pittsfield came subsequent to the Joe's Inn issue--if they had preceded it- it would have been a big fat no vote from me
Perhaps the issue of WCW will be discussed at this week's meeting--However- it is not on the agenda--not surprising since the Council never referred the issue to Fincom therefore the Council should not expect a report that they didn't ask for. Maybe it will come in under suspension. the vote by the Fincom is tantamount to a panic attack
Editor: The only reference to taxes was that North Adams would be far cheaper compared to New York. Also adding, that to my knowledge, the FinCom was not going to report to the council and it is not on the agenda. I Agree (7) - I Disagree (0)
Clark is just being Clark. Rhode Island must not be too exciting. I don't know exactly when or why he started hating on Dick, but during the last election he went after every decision he made, too. There are deeper issues at play.
I believe what Clark is pointing out Tammy, is that the Alcombright mouthpieces (what you call the transcript and iBerkshires), did not do any due diligence into this company or their financials. And you (the city controlled media) are not asking the right questions....also the councilors are not. Please stop this blind following of someone who is leading us off a cliff.
Editor: Funny, a couple years ago we were the old administration's mouthpieces. My how times have changed. Anyhoo, we do what we can with limited resources - that often means finding someone else who's looking down the same alleys. Which we did. Which we posted. I Agree (7) - I Disagree (0)
You just knew this would turn into an Alcombright versus Barrett discussion. If this business comes to the city, the Barrett crowd will make it look like the Mayor is just courting disaster. If Manchester wins, all of the Barrett folk will claim Alcombright failed. Enough is enough. If John wants to be Mayor again, let him run. Take out papers, tomorrow is the deadline. I used to be a big Barrett supporter, but I'm done with the man. He's acted like a baby since he left office and all he wants is for Alcombright to fail. He doesn't care one bit whether he hurts the city or not. And before you start in on me, I voted no on the override. I'm just sick of the whining.
Im concerned with this company leaving NY owing back taxes an a lien being placed against them. What happens if they dont agree with NA assessments. Will they just not pay NA and continue with this way of business. Looks to me like this owner just ties up in legal red tape not to pay his taxes. Does NA really need another dead beat half assed company ?
To the know it all who claims that the local media is now the Alcombright mouthpiece - really? The Transcript in particular seemed to take great pains in supporting everything John Barrett did while in office, and had a very prominent editorial supporting his re-election bid right after Dick announced he was running and far before JBIII had even said he would run in the last election.
And due diligence? Did Barrett do any due diligence in vetting Jae Chung prior to glowingly supporting him in opening Jae's Inn? Anyone who did even a little background would have clearly seen his property shell game at work, opening restaurants here, there and everywhere, shuttering them, reopening them, falling behind on taxes in the process. But that seemed to get past the ever-diligent former Mayor. As one poster previously said, this mattress company has not said it won't pay its taxes to NY, it is disputing the valuation, which seems to be valid. You don't pay a ton in taxes thinking you'll get a rebate once the town has the value right, because you will never see that money again. If the City of North Adams valued your house at a million bucks, would you pay the tax bill or appeal the valuation? The Barrett crowd is so transparent it's ridiculous. Anything and everything that Alcombright does is questioned. Hey JBIII, want to run the city again? Take out your papers. Tomorrow is coming awfully fast.
Hey KnowItAll, show me the editorial, because I am calling bull feathers on you. The mayor could burn down main street in plain sight and the transcript would either not print the story or write an editorial questioning whether or not we should prosecute him. The transcript is so far in the bag, that I could the editorial that they will write when boucher announces formally and send it to you right now. Please.
Editor: OK, boys and girls. This isn't the Alcombright/Barrett thread. I Agree (10) - I Disagree (1)
So apparently the issue of foreclosure and back taxes WAS NOT brought to the attention of the FinCom--so there was no transparency-after all--and no I was not asking the media to do due diligence in their original stories of the FinCom meeting-- it appears that iberkshires has done it's due diligence in this article--the Transcript is asleep (kind words) probably better said in a Coma--
OK so the FinCom is not going to report to the Council at Tuesdays meeting---I guess they'll make their "recommendation" at the meeting of the 23re---I still like to know what documents they approved--I don;t that there was any-- if none- no vote should have been taken-----My animosity toward Alcombright stems from his lack of transparency and by-passing the Council by going to directly to FinCom- which works for the Council NOT the Mayor----same goes from his botched handling of the budget---Jae's was a mistake---but his Boston "empire" was I felt typically entrepuenerial- - buy something --build it up- sell it---Porches was a success story--WCW---I think is a huge risk---I'd like to know who their buyers are---and why Alcombright HID the facts until the story made iberkshires----if I were Bloom- Bond (and Bona I guess was there as well) I'd be livid--they were used and played for suckers---I hope the Council votes down the TIF--if nothing more than to teach the Mayor a lesson--when you campaign on transparency-- do things right--and stop keeping the Council out of the loop until you get your good press out of the way--for all the time he spent on the Council---he apparently didn;t learn a damn thing about process and procedure
Questioning why he would run, is not an endorsement for barrett. It basically said barret was too entrenched, and ended by saying "we will see what happens".....so dont twist it. The bias is evident based on letters to the editor during the override. According to the transcript, 90% of the city was for the override, (and dont tell me that override non supporters did not write letters, that doesnt hold water), even though it lost 2-1.
Okay, R2, it was in the Transcript on April 7, 2009. Starts with: "City Councilor Richard J. Alcombright surprised very few locals with his announcement Tuesday, as the city has been abuzz for months with word of his potential run against John Barrett III, the dean of Massachusetts mayors. What may have surprised some, however, is that Mr. Alcombright chose to run this year, as opposed to waiting two more years for Mr. Barrett to retire, as the mayor has made it known privately that he would." I'd pass along the rest, but hey, I'm not paying a few bucks so that I can show you the entire thing. Do the archive search yourself on the Transcript site, and pay the fee for the whole article if you still don't believe it exists. Odd that you proclaim to be in the know about how the media treated Barrett, and yet never saw this...
As I said in my previous post, R2, you're not worth the cost of paying for the full text. Anything older than two weeks you have to pay a fee to "buy" the article. But since you claim to have seen the entire article, please do us all a favor and copy it here so we can all judge its bias. And by the way, the override didn't lose 2 to 1, math genius. It lost 60-40. 2 to 1 would have been 75-25. And I voted no - I agree with you on the override issue, but you're just plain wrong on this whole media bias toward Alcombright.
Now I've seen it all... Clark Billings tells us John Barrett was more transparent than Dick Alcombright. I laughed so hard I almost couldn't type this. I agree with you, Clark, that Alcombright handled the budget and override badly, but please... when you were a councilor, when JB said jump, you all said how high and didn't care if you hit your head on the ceiling fan.
The Letter of Intent is not a Council document as it has not been presented to the Council with written corresponding communication-- it does not require a vote----talk about Councilor jumping at the behest of the Mayor---Barrett never pretended to be transparent--Alcombright claims that he is and it is a blatant lie as is in evidence that he never told the FinCom about the financial woes of WCW at a meeting of the FinCom that didn;t have to be held except for another election photo op------
2-1 is 66 2/3 to 33 1/3-----75-25 is 3-1---my advice math flunky don't ever go to OTB
Editor: They didn't vote on the letter of intent; they voted to endorse an STA and the designation of an economic opportunity area. I apologize if that was construed from my posting. I Agree (3) - I Disagree (0)
Barrett scared more business away from North Adams with his constant interference in telling potential businesse what they could or could not do in private closed doors meetings at city hall.
He was a no-show, over paid consultant in Pittsfield and he is still bitter about the voters showing him the door.
Tammy- the FinCom had no official communication from the Mayor asking for the endorsement of the STA nor the designation of an economic opportunity area. There was nothing for them to vote on and yet they did--AND without knowledge of the mess that WCW has in Hoosick Falls---conveniently omitted by the transparent Mayor--why was he hiding it?-I guess he didn't expect iberkshires to break the story---he knew about the mess and ignored it--I hope he doesn't ignore the egg on his face
In the true spirit of Barrett philosphy attack the business first and push them to Manchester. Dash the hopes of jobs coming to North Adams is better than good happening while Alcombright is mayor. Take all those filthy artzy fartzies with you too. It's time for darkness to rule again. Arrrgh!
Isn't it the job of the FinCom to vet the request and do their research? I know in the past that wasn't the case as the former mayor did that for them but now isn't it their duty to perfrom that task? Why be on the FinCom, or any board or committee for that matter, if your not going to do your due dillagence?
Editor: Good point, but in this case, the state was looking for something positive from the city to move forward with a tax package. There also is no indication (yet) that WCW can't pay their taxes; the issue is a legal dispute over valuations. The company hasn't paid because they've been in court over it. I Agree (4) - I Disagree (3)
This isn't another X-Tyal, Mark. X-Tyal leased an old mill building, came to town with a sordid history of abusing its employees and going from city to city, and ended up closing in the middle of the night and taking all of the money with them. Say what you want about this mattress company, they seem financially sound and will be buying the building. As the editor said, their dispute is over valuation, not whether to pay taxes or not. If they can be financed to buy a property worth $2.2 million, they have fiscal stability. In this economy, you don't turn your nose up at 100 jobs.
Editor: If the STA is approved, that creates a contract with WCW; the company is agreeing to the valuation and the taxing. I Agree (1) - I Disagree (1)
The ability to fully vet a company is beyond the capacity of a City Council committee---a Councilor snooping around the tax office and the factory in Hoosick Falls would not be appropriate.
The Mayor did his due diligence up to a point ("I don't know all the details")---but he FAILED to inform the FinCom of what he had found---probably because he didn't want the Council or the City to know the problems that WCW has.
The state needed a "sign"?--that sign would come through a formal vote by the Council on a formal submitted document---2 members of a subcommittee- is not a "sign"--especially since they had nothing concrete to vote on--
The notion that the company is solvent does not excuse the non-payment of taxes--when the town reduced the evaluation to $1.7 million and submitted an appraisal to the court and CWC didn't not follow the court directive you have an example of a sneaky business doing the sneaky---they will walk scott free having paid no taxes for the four years they owned the building----some proponents are saying well they have enough money or credit to buy the Sprague building--so??? just because they buy it doesn't mean they'll pay their taxes--
I don't know where your info comes from professor. In no stories do I see mention of any "court directive" ordering WCW to pay their disputed taxes. I see mention of a lawsuit filed by the town but don't see a final judgment on it, and I see mention of the company continuing to appeal its valuation. I know you're very politically savvy, Clark, but have you ever owned a property in NY? They bleed you dry in taxes that are much higher than anything locally. I bet a deeper investigation into Hoosick town finances would show they have a big hole in their town budget and are using this to try and get whatever they can. There is no doubt they owe taxes - the question is how much. If this were your property and your town gave you a valuation much higher than you know the property is worth, would you just pay it and shut up, or appeal it? This ridiculous back and forth is just what the town of Manchester needs to seal the deal.
My reference to the court was that WCW was to get an independent appraisal of the property to file with the court--the article said that the town did that but WCW did not and has been asking for extension after extension----not that they were directed by the court to pay the taxes====the property was re-assessed at 1.7 million--that's 300 thou less than the Sprague property--WCW should be able to pay that and it is probably in the ball park for New York assessments----the outfit can buy the Sprague---and with the incentives (TIF) only have to pay $177,000 (or 100%) in the fifth year- lower increments in the first 4 years---BUT what is to say that they won;t challenge NA's assessment---which will obviously increase as re-vals are done-----it seems as though that they have filed an appeal but don;t want to play by the rules---
I rememeber the years after Sprague closed up shop in North Adams and how the city accepted any and all job creating opportunities no matter how dubious. There was a whole string of fly by night manufacturers who came to the city and left without warning - workers found the doors locked, wondering when or if they'd get paid. Those were the days when North Adams had little community pride and would settle for whatever came our way. I hope we're not headed back in that direction and the mayor and city counsel have the courage to say thanks, but no thanks to any business that has a track record of non-payment of taxes, litigating through delaying tactics and other behavior that demonstrates what a poor corporate citizen it would be for North Adams.
The Mayor is quoted as saying that WCW's track record is that of a good corporate citizen--however he failed to offer any examples--just as he failed
to inform the FinCom of the red flag that he knew of and decided that it was not a red flag but a green flag -as in go for it--if the red flag was not a red flag why not tell the FinCom before they gave their unequivocal and enthusiastic support for the deal??
Maybe the Fincom is not color blind--so why take the chance
The clearest indication that WCW is a savvy company is the fact that they are not taking the NY tax issue lying down. They are not deadbeats. They seem to have done all they can to indicate to the local community that they want to stay if given a level playing field, but bureaucracy and politics have forced their hand. Exploring a possible move is a way for them to force the issue further, but barring a favorable resolution in the near term, they will relocate. Hopefully, they will choose North Adams.
Check this out. The same story in the Manchester Journal and not one post. No negative comments for local government either. It proves the some in NA have too much time on their hands and don't want to work. If there aren't jobs here they can blame it on the mayor. It's easier collecting a check in the mail. http://www.manchesterjournal.com/headlines/ci_18644858
If anyone knows anything about property taxes, they would realize that there is a process to go through to grieve the assessed value. When WCW purchased the building for $400k, they looked at any related tax bills and saw the assessments, so their first action should have been to properly file a grievance, which they did not do. Would you really purchase a building to expand your business without knowing what the taxes were currently set at? There is also a separate process for the Village Taxes, so a separate process has to be followed to affect that assessed value. The intent of the company was to completely avoid paying any taxes in Hoosick Falls. They are not ignorant of the property tax process, and they did not have a simple assessment dispute, as the owner has stated, they created the situation so that it could be tied up in court to buy them enough time to operate tax-free for 5 years, before leaving town. NYS is not at fault here, the property tax laws are certainly not a new thing, and WCW and their attorneys should have been (and probably were) fully aware of it.
North Adams and Manchester ought to be very wary of this company.
I was stating what any reasonable businessperson SHOULD HAVE done upon buying a building, when I said they looked at property tax bills when they bought the building - you have to understand what your costs are when you are in business or expanding a business, and in looking at a tax bill it is very clear what current assessments are.
After re-reading another article from the Bennington Banner, it states that they actually did file a grievance in 2007, and the value was reduced to $1.7M. Although the property was purchased for $400k, it was a sale of distress according to the town assessor and is not a proper reflection of the value of the property.
It seems some of you are still waiting for one of those 1,000 employee type businesses; they aren't coming. You better be willing to settle for 100 here and there. North Adams is dying a slow death, and some of you have your heads in the sand.
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