The city of Fulton Tuesday began the process of taking land away from the town of Granby that Granby wasn’t planning to give up.
The land in question is the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, which sits along Route 48 in Granby, just north of the city line.
In 2011, the city paid $38,561.08 in taxes to the town and $78,324.14 to the Fulton City School District. Annexation would eliminate those taxes.
Mayor Ron Woodward said that the city’s decision to try to annex the land is based on several issues:
- A state agency recently raised its assessment of the value of the plant by $900,000, to more than $3.9 million. The city disputes the validity of the assessment, but fears a sharply higher tax bill because of it;
- The city is spending $2.5 million to upgrade the treatment plant to comply with a federal order. Woodward believes the upgrades could bring an even higher assessment and tax bill;
- A potential buyer for the closed Birds Eye food processing plant in the city wants a break on its sewer rates, something Woodward said he can’t give if the cost of taxes for the plant will be going up.
So Woodward and the Common Council, which voted 5-0 to begin annexation proceedings, will have to pick a fight with Granby in order to annex the land.
“I think it’s in the interest of the whole region” to have the former Birds Eye plant open again, said Woodward, who added that the potential buyers have promised to hire former Birds Eye workers first. He said those workers live in Fulton, Granby and around the area.
“We don’t consent to anything. Nothing,” said Granby Supervisor Ed Williamson, who attended the meeting to hear the discussion. “We’re willing to sit down and talk but we consent to nothing.” He said the annexation proposal was a surprise.
Fulton fought a bitter and ultimately successful annexation battle under the administration of former Mayor Donald Bullard to annex property from Volney for the River Glen Square shopping plaza.
The city’s annexation request hinges on counting the land under the Oswego River as belonging to Fulton and being adjacent to the treatment plant.
Council members approved resolutions that will create a series of public hearings on the annexation proposal. Meantime, Williamson said he will pursue a meeting with local members of the State Legislature to try to find a more peaceful solution.
“I think there’s a way around everything,” Williamson said.
[Writer’s disclosure: The late former Mayor Donald Bullard is no relation to me, but was a partner in this publication until his death.]