December 13, 2013
Dear Rye Brook Community Members:
I want to bring to your attention a very important vote by the Westchester Board of Legislators next Monday evening (December 16, 2013), which could have a significant impact upon the residents of the Village of Rye Brook. Signature Flight Support Corporation lodged a suit against Westchester County in 2012 claiming the right to be exempt from property and school taxes with respect to property it leases from Westchester County at the Westchester County Airport. Signature has also sought reimbursement for prior taxes it has paid during the period of time it claims it should have been exempt from taxation.
The Village of Rye Brook, along with the Blind Brook School District, would be severely affected if signature should prevail in its lawsuit. Both the Village and School District would have to refund significant tax payments received from Signature (hundreds of thousands of dollars for the village and millions of dollars for the school district would have to be refunded). Furthermore, both the village and school district would stop receiving Signature’s ongoing yearly property tax payments. This could have a significant impact on services provided by the Village of Rye Brook.
As recently as last week it appeared that an agreement had been reached with all of the parties regarding Signature’s lawsuit. This agreement included Signature dropping its claim to a tax exemption for the property it leases, as well as its claim for the reimbursement of the prior taxes it has paid. The agreement also included a reduction in Signature’s rent to the County at the airport and the County’s approval of the assignment of certain additional leases to Signature at Signature’s request.
The Village was in favor of this agreement. However, the agreement which has been presented to the Board of Legislators and which the Board is scheduled to vote on at its meeting on Monday has been modified. The proposed agreement before the Board now provides Signature with the assignment of leases it is seeking (which is what it wanted all along) without requiring Signature to withdraw its claims against the Village and School District in its lawsuit.
Village Administrator Christopher Bradbury and I will be in attendance at this Monday’s Board of Legislators meeting, along with representatives of the Blind Brook School District, to speak at the meeting and convey our frustration that the legislation was changed with no transparency as well as the potential harm that will come to both the village and school district if they vote to pass the legislation as it is now proposed. Community members are invited and urged to attend. The meeting will be held at 148 Martine Avenue, 8th floor, White Plains beginning 7:00 p.m.
A copy of a joint letter from the Village of Rye Brook and the Blind Brook School District is attached.
Paul S. Rosenberg
Mayor, Village of Rye Brook