Excerpts from the article in the Woodstock Times April, 1999
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What's it worth to you?
Teran Realty's Andrew Peck wins string of settlements in assessment challenges.
by Todd Paul
Last week, the Woodstock Town Board voted to settle four years of tax certiorari claims with Realtor Andrew Peck. Peck had challenged the town over some 112-property assessments dating back to 1995, claiming the town grossly over assessed his clients. After a [failed] attempt to get his cases dismissed on procedural grounds the town settled in order to avoid further legal costs. The cumulative reduction in assessments to the individual taxpayers represented by Peck amounts to some $1.8 million. [circa $82,000. in refunds to clients].
Peck says this is a vindication of his contention that until last year's revaluation, many Woodstock properties were over assessed. The fact that the town elected to settle once its objections had been thrown out of court indicates his claims are valid.
Peck spent thousands of dollars out of pocket to carefully document his claims over the years, only to be turned down by the grievance board in every case. Finally, he says, he decided to save his money and let the court decide. . . He adds that he has never lost in court. One thing is certain: Litigating tax certiorari cases costs a lot of money. Town Supervisor Tracy Kellogg says Woodstock has spent $15,000. litigating Peck's cases alone. Peck has spent $15,000. to $20,000. out of pocket in legal and appraisal fees, which he will now recoup from the town.
Peck says he started challenging assessments in 1986, when he bought a property in Woodstock for $20,000, which was assessed for $71,000. After receiving little satisfaction from the grievance board, Peck went to court; the town fought his claim for four years. Finally, says Peck, the judge ordered both sides to hire an appraiser and have the property appraised. Peck's appraiser came in at $20,000; the town's appraiser came in at $21,500. A settlement quickly followed. He currently represents clients in Woodstock, Hurley, Cairo, Saugerties and the City of Kingston.
Peck says Woodstock's assessments are more fair than they have been for years. Peck gives the new Woodstock assessor Seth Plawsky credit for this, and says it's one reason he doesn't expect to end up in court with Woodstock again. "I want the towns to put me out of business in this niche of my business," says Peck, "And I think they're going to do it in Woodstock."