B y Jaime Thomas
Nearly ending a long dispute between the town of Hartford and Washington County, the closing of the Eldridge Lane landfill property took place Wednesday afternoon.
Following years of litigation between the two entities, during which the town sued the county over money it felt it was owed for the county-owned spot, Argyle dairy farmer Gary Fullerton won the land by auction this past fall.
Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff said the closing was delayed longer than expected because the county had to start a search from scratch for the 1992 purchase.
A settlement months in the making stipulated the county would pay Hartford a lump sum of $40,000 and an additional $4,000 on Jan. 1 of every year the land remains in county ownership.
However, Haff pointed out at a Feb. 11 meeting that the town had not yet received the latter payment.
“The county has not transferred or sold the property yet. This payment should’ve come Jan. 1,” he said at that time. After Wednesday’s closing, however, the deed was transferred, and the county paid Hartford $4,000 in lieu of taxes, as per the agreement.
Three separate but adjoining parcels make up the 485-acre plot, which Washington County purchased in the early 1990s for a landfill that was essentially never used.
Following years of issues between the town and the county, the county board of supervisors agreed to put the property up for sale last fall.
But despite the sale, the saga is not quite finished.
“It’s not really, truly over yet,” Haff said Thursday. “This really isn’t going to end for Hartford until this fall, when the town goes over accounting details with county.”
He said because the property went from non-taxable status to taxable status, and it closed before March 1, it is now considered by assessors to be on the tax rolls for 2014.
“The county already paid the town $4,000; now, the town’s going to collect some taxes—we can’t get both,” Haff said. He said in the fall, when the town “settles all the books” with the county, the different municipalities will figure out who owes who what.
“There’s another opportunity for disagreement. It truly will not be over until the end of this year,” he said, expecting the town to end up collecting a little more than $4,000 total.
Though he said he looks forward to moving past the issue, he is glad the county sold the land.
“The real victory here is the county decided to sell the property and divest itself of the property,” he said.