By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — The Town Council has given a Malone property owner five years to pay 11 years of back taxes on an airport hangar situated on town-owned land.
Victor Fellion, in an agreement signed April 10, will pay $259.17 a month at 12 percent interest to the Town Supervisor’s Office beginning this month, until he pays off $11,655.40.
That is the amount of unpaid tax that has accumulated on the property since 2002.
The first payment was made, and the final one is due March 1, 2018.
Hangar No. 7, where Fellion keeps an aircraft, is a 1,746-square-foot building on town property at Malone Dufort Airport assessed at $19,200.
Its full-market value is $22,660.
Fellion has been an airport tenant and leased the site from 2002 to 2012, but the lease agreement states the taxes are to be kept current in order for the pact to be in effect.
NO CURRENT LEASE
The town’s airport-lease agreement states rental fees are due the first of each month and that if payment is not received as of the 15th, a 10 percent late fee is added.
If the renter is 30 days late, the agreement is terminated and the hangar must be vacated and all personal property removed.
It also states “tenant hangar owners agree to pay all property taxes associated with said hangar.”
As of Friday, the town still had no signed 2013 lease agreement on file with Fellion for the No. 7 hangar.
The airport has a copy signed by Fellion that was delivered by Town Councilor Jack Sullivan after the first of the year, but it lacks the required notarization to make it binding.
Town Supervisor Howard Maneely declined to sign the lease at the time because it was not notarized and because the town had been informed that Fellion’s required insurance was being canceled for nonpayment.
The insurance has since been paid, and the policy is back in force.
The town collects its taxes until March 31 each year, and then the unpaid bills are turned over to the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office, which makes the town whole by paying the amount owed.
But the town is still has to try to get taxes out of property owners either through a payment agreement or by adding the unpaid balance into the following year’s town budget for all taxpayers to pay.
The county charged the town for Fellion’s 2010, 2011 and 2013 unpaid taxes, and the Town Council moved to get its money back.
Sullivan serves on the Airport Committee and was given a $400 check from Fellion in February to pay two months of back rent on the hangar, with the balance to go toward the back taxes.
But Budget Officer Andrea Stewart could not accept the payment because there was no paperwork to explain what the outstanding balance was and no signed agreement to show a payment schedule.
Sullivan then gave the check to Airport Manager Mark Besio, who couldn’t accept it either because all he was owed was $150, and the check was make out for much more.
Besio sent the check back to Stewart, who then sought guidance from the State Comptroller’s Office, as did Town Attorney Lillian Anderson-Duffy.
She drew up the legal document adopted by the Town Council on April 10.
According to the March 27 meeting minutes, approved at the council’s April 10 meeting, Deputy Town Supervisor Paul Walbridge was absent, but the tax-payment agreement was unanimously approved by Maneely, Sullivan and council members Louise Taylor and Mary Scharf, who is Fellion’s ex-wife.
When asked why she did not abstain from voting, Scharf said she did abstain and that she had done so each time an issue involving Fellion was raised and that “the minutes are wrong.”
No revisions were proposed or made to the March minutes before their approval.
If Fellion does not pay the monthly unpaid-tax installment, he will be sent a notice that payment is due within 15 days.
If that deadline is missed, the town can demand full payment for the amount owed and Fellion would be evicted and the hangar would have to be removed within 30 days.
If it were not moved within that time frame, the town would be able to take ownership of the building and seize its contents.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org