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Tops sues to lower assessments in Albion, Medina

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Tops store on Maple Ridge Road in Medina is pictured on Monday evening. The store is part of a plaza assessed at $3,471,000.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 September 2018 at 1:53 pm

Tops Markets is seeking to lower its assessments for its stores in Albion and Medina. If Tops is successful in court, the company would pay about $100,000 less in taxes in Orleans County.

Tops, which filed for bankruptcy in February, has Article 7 proceedings against Albion and Shelby for the two stores in Orleans County.

In Albion, the store at 408 West Ave. is assessed for $2,750,000. Tops wants the assessment lowered to $1,775,660. The tax rate is a combined $45.74 for the Town of Albion ($2.75), Village of Albion ($17.73), Orleans County ($9.86) and Albion Central School ($15.40).

At a $2,750,000 assessment, Tops pays a $125,785 tax bill. The Albion store is about 50,000 square feet. If the assessment is reduced by $974,340, the company would pay $44,566 less in taxes.

The company also is seeking a reduction for the store in Medina, which is part of a 90,000-square-foot plaza at 11200 Maple Ridge Rd. That building, which also includes a gas station, is assessed for $3,471,000.

The tax rate for the property is $52.04 and includes the Town of Shelby ($3.65), Village of Medina ($17.18), Orleans County ($10.09) and Medina Central School ($21.12).

The Medina site is assessed for $3,471,000. It is owned by Medina Center LLC, which along with Tops is seeking a lower assessment. They want it lowered to $2,665,800. If successful, the $805,200 reduction would lower the taxes by $41,903 from $180,630.

The towns of Shelby and Albion were notified in late July that they assessments would be challenged in court. The towns set the values with their assessors and the towns are responsible for defending the assessments if they are challenged.

However, three years ago Orleans County approved a new policy where the towns wouldn’t have to bear the full burden of an assessment challenge by themselves if the assessments were over $3 million. The villages, school districts and county would all be asked to help finance a legal battle.

At the time the owners of the Orchard Manor nursing home in Medina and the Villages of Orleans, a nursing home in Albion, were challenging their assessments.

The towns have the lowest tax rates and stand to lose the least with an assessment challenge, while the county, villages and school districts have more money at stake.

With the new policy the Albion Tops is just under the $3 million threshold so the Town of Albion will have to defend the case by itself. However, in Medina the assessment is over $3 million and the other taxing entities are being asked to help with each paying a share that reflects the percentage of their tax rate to the whole. For the Village of Medina, the $17.18 tax rate represents 33 percent of the total. The school district will pay 41 percent, while the county pays 19 percent and the town, 7 percent, as part of the agreement.

The Medina Village Board on Monday agreed to contribute to the legal defense as part of the agreement with the other entities. If the county, school district or village decided not to help with the legal defense, the agreement calls for the town to pay the full share.

Matthew Brooks, the village attorney, has been hired to defend Shelby with the assessment challenge.

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