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Lakeland Schools To Return $117K In Tax Payments

SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – More than $100,000 in tax payments will be returned to property owners in the Lakeland Central School District after the Board of Education accepted court-ordered settlements at last week’s meeting.

The board will be on the hook for $117,476.04, with the biggest chunk being returned in the Hollow Brook Mews condominiums. Assistant Superintendent for Business Ray Morningstar said the condominium development off Oregon Road in Cortlandt will receive $103,916.48 for overassessments between 2009 and 2012.

“The proposed reductions of 6 to 12 percent are due to the law," Morningstar said, "which requires that condominiums be assessed as rental buildings.”

A refund of $13,559.56 will be returned to Pike Plaza, a minimall at 2050 E. Main St. in Cortlandt. Morningstar said the overassessment is the result of “longstanding significant vacancies at the property.”

Schools Superintendent George Stone said the money had been set aside in a reserve balance in anticipation of tax appeals.

School board President Elizabeth Kogler, though, wondered why the board was being asked to “approve” something that it could not actually vote down.

“I hate doing this vote, because it doesn’t matter how we vote,” she said. “We have to give them the refunds.”

Despite having their hands tied by the court-ordered settlements, board members John Carroll and Glen Malia still voted against the refunds.

Board member Carol Ann Dobson said that when a property owner wins a case to reduce an assessment, the district does not lose money. Instead the burden shifts to other property owners to make up for the loss.

“It’s not like I begrudge giving people money back,” she said. “I just want to make sure people are aware, if you give back to one, you have to take it from another to cover. So it winds up costing everybody else in the district more money.”

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