Almost $2 million -- that's how much the town of Lysander and the Baldwinsville School District could lose should Anheuser-Busch succeed in lowering their assessment from $96.6 million to $35 million, an effort they are currently pursuing.
In a letter addressed to Lysander residents regarding the 2008 town budget, officials touched upon the subject of the lawsuit including the approximately $250,000 for legal and appraisal fees the town set aside this year alone.
"It is important to note that this year's anticipated legal and appraisal costs account for nearly the entire increase in your 2008 town tax bill," the letter states. "Meeting these costs, which may continue in future years, is in the best interests of taxpayers in the town of Lysander, the Baldwinsville School district and the Belgium-Cold Springs fire district."
The letter, which Supervisor Barry Bullis, councilors Brian May, Art Levy and Jack Krisanda and former councilor George Rowland signed, also stated, "If our defense is not successful, each of those districts will suffer huge financial losses as a result of Anheuser-Busch's action and taxpayers will be forced to make up the difference."
Lysander Comptroller David Rahrle said the town has spent $68,955 in legal costs since September of 2006. Michael Shusda, assistant superintendent for management services with the Baldwinsville School District, said the district has spent $21,000 on legal costs just this year and that Anheuser-Busch pays approximately five and a half percent of school taxes, which totaled $2,472,510 (including public library) in 2007. He added that Anheuser-Busch is currently under a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program, a 30-year deal that is scheduled to expire in two years. Despite the PILOT, Shusda said the brewery is paying its fair share of taxes.
"They don't get any discount by having a PILOT," he said. "They're paying the full amount -- just in a different way."