Jan 13, 2009 Martha E. Conway Uncategorized
A fence erected to keep Carl Dennis Tornatore of Canastota from bringing tires onto his property on Pine Ridge Road in the town of Sullivan is coming down. Sullivan Supervisor John M. Becker received a copy of a letter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to Tornatore, informing him of the plans.
Eagle Newspapers recently obtained copies of the DEC’s correspondence and Becker’s response.
The DEC’s letter, written by Steven E. Perrigo, who holds the position of environmental engineer 2 with the DEC, reads, “The Department, under the waste tire abatement program, has completed the removal of the waste tires, which were disposed at your facility Prior to initiating the waste tire removal process, the Department installed a chain link fence to reduce the potential for the illegal disposal of any additional waste tires at your facility.
“Please note that the chain link fence remains the property of New York state, and the Department will be removing it from your facility in the near future.”
Becker expressed outrage by the move in October and November as a series of communications went back and forth between his office, the Madison County Treasurer’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General.
Tornatore has not paid property taxes on the former Title Town Tires property for more than 20 years. The back taxes — about $40,000 — now exceed the actual assessed value of the property (about $38,0000).
Treasurer’s Office officials say the property might auction for about a quarter of its assessed value.
If anyone bids on it.
“Anything on that property becomes the problem of whoever buys it,” Becker said. “I’ve heard he’s been bringing tires right back into that building since right after [Titan Environmental] drove the cleanup equipment out of there.”
The original plan was for the county to take the property for back taxes once it was cleaned up; however, there are additional costs associated with that process, as the county has to prepare and file certain notices and take deed to the property.
After an initial agreement with the state that the state and local municipalities would share any proceeds from sale at the county’s annual land auction, Becker said he was informed that the Attorney General’s office would not accept anything less than the entire proceeds from the sale.
Becker said it’s no deal because the town and county are not going to incur any more expenses for the property.
“The DEC was asked to split the proceeds of any sale 50/50, and the DEC has refused to split the proceeds,” Becker wrote to Kristen Rizzo of the DEC. “The owner most likely will haul more tires onto this property once the fence is gone. Madison County will not foreclose on this property, even thought there is about $40,000 in local taxes owed.”
The cleanup, including fence and legal expenses, cost state taxpayers — or at least legitimate tire purchasers — more than $300,000. That expense has been levied as a lien against the title of the property, adding to the back taxes due.
About $290,000 of that, the actual cleanup costs, came out of a waste tire fund established in late 2004. The money for that fund is collected from people purchasing new tires at retailers around the state.
The letter ends with a reminder to Tornatore that he is not to bring any more tires onto the property.
“Lastly, you are reminded that you have a continued obligation under the Order, Judgment & Settlement Stipulation issued Nov. 18,2002, by the Supreme Court of Madison County, that the collection and storage of any waste tires at this facility is strictly forbidden.”
Becker said he won’t let the matter drop.
“I’ve told the DEC, ‘Don’t touch the fence, I’m going to talk to the governor,'” Becker said.