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By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer

The Board of Education is appealing a recent state Supreme Court dismissal of its legal action against the county Industrial Development Agency and the Griffiss Utility Services Corp. over a new 25-year tax-free agreement.

The board voted 7-0 Wednesday night to authorize its lawyers to file a notice of appeal with the state Appellate Division, Fourth Department; absent for the vote were board Vice President Amanda Cortese and member Louis Daniello. The action followed a 90-minute closed session that included two attorneys from an East Syracuse law firm that represents the district.

Pursuing the appeal will cost the school district about $7,000, attorney Joseph Shields said afterward. Attorneys discussed the cost with the school board, he added. He could not immediately estimate the cost of the district’s initial Supreme Court action against the IDA and GUSC that was dismissed May 22 by Supreme Court Justice Bernadette T. Clark.

The district’s legal challenge opposed IDA approval of a 25-year tax-free agreement for GUSC following a prior 10-year tax-free break. The district has estimated it would lose about $11 million over 25 years in potential revenue from payments-in-lieu-of-taxes.

GUSC provides energy for employer sites at Griffiss business park. The IDA has argued that the tax-free agreement would help stabilize energy costs for current park tenants and could help attract new tenants.

A court decision on the district’s appeal could take about six months, said Shields. The appeal seeking to overturn the IDA’s granting of the tax-free agreement does not provide for seeking a legal stay or related action that could put the agreement on hold pending a decision, he added.

The school board disagrees with Clark’s ruling that the school district lacks legal standing to challenge the tax-free agreement; Clark said the district and board are not taxpayers, and did not demonstrate how they are "aggrieved" even if deprived of tax revenues. But board President Patricia Riedel and district Superintendent Jeffrey P. Simons argued in a recent statement that districts do have standing in such cases because their revenues are directly and negatively affected.

RomeSentinel.com

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