Controversy Continues Over Huron Assessment

By Erika Mahoney

August 21, 2012 Updated Aug 22, 2012 at 12:12 AM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Village of Endicott Mayor John Bertoni continues to stand his ground, saying he was never invited to negotiation meetings about the Huron Campus settlement.

The assessment has cost his village and its taxpayers millions of dollars.

But on Tuesday, the Town of Union produced documents proving the village was invited to the table.

Faxes or emails sent by the Town's Attorney to the Endicott Village attorney asked to arrange for meetings to discuss Huron negotiations.

On June 27 and again on July 5, that correspondence stated the village attorney and mayor would need to sign a confidentiality agreement.

A few weeks later, a settlement was approved in State Supreme Court.

It all stems from an agreement accompanied the purchase of the Huron campus from IBM 10 years ago, which prohibited the buyers from renegotiating the campus' fair market value, so the buyers were paying more than four times in taxes compared to what the campus was actually worth.

That agreement expires this year.

The Town of Union contends everyone involved--the village of Endicott, the Union-Endicott School District and Broome County--were well aware of the fallout.

Now, the Huron owners will be paying less than a third of what they've been paying for a decade, leaving the village of Endicott as the biggest loser, charged with filling a nearly 2 million dollar budget gap.

But beyond the money, it's sparked a he-said, she-said exchange between Endicott's Mayor Bertoni and Town of Union Supervisor Rose Sotak over Endicott's say in the deal.

Mayor Bertoni says these invitations really meant nothing because he believes the decision on the assessment was already a done deal once he was asked to join in on the conversation.

"It's proof of nothing, it's proof that we weren't involved, it's proof that everything was done, finished, completed before we were even informed of it," said Bertoni. "It's like I said, it is getting invited to the birthday party, you know, and the candles are all blown out."

Bertoni points to a confidentiality agreement dated in February 2012 that he says didn't even have a place for him to sign.

After that, he says all communication was cut off until June 2012.

We reached out to Town of Union Supervisor Rose Sotak on Tuesday over the phone, and she said negotiations were not complete in June.

She says the reason Bertoni wasn't contacted between February and June was because an assessor was working on the campus.