Fudoli questioned for failure to paid taxes
Fudoli who said it was based on a “business decision” plans to pay off the property taxes soon, after the sale of a two parcels of land.
Fudoli is currently up-to-date on the taxes for his Farmview Court residence in Lancaster, but the other five properties, three which are vacant commercial properties and two which are residences, have outstanding tax bills.
Fudoli explained the vacant properties were inherited and the purpose of obtaining these properties was to one day develop the land, but it didn’t quite work out the way he planned because of increased assessments and the property being devalued by wetlands.
After receiving the Cheektowaga properties, a total of 35 acres, which are owned between him and his family, the town increased the assessments on the property, and according to Fudoli it went up nearly 10 times the amount.
“Literally, one parcel in particular went from $25,000 to $255,000,” said Fudoli. “Ultimately, all these assessments went up by 1,000 percent. So, I challenged it in back in 2008/2009. I lost the first challenge and I lost the second challenge.”
It was during the challenging process Fudoli was notified by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that there were wetlands on the properties.
“So, I went back to the Town of Cheektowaga and said I have 35 acres total of all these parcels together, between me and my family, not all of it was mine, 24 acres was deemed DEC wetlands. I went back to the town and said ‘how are you charging me all this assessment when 75 percent of the property is almost is useless?’”
Fudoli added there is not one parcel of property that doesn’t have a wetland on it. Some of the property has as little as 30 to 45 percent of wetlands, but others have as high as 90 percent.
As soon as he lost the last challenge he put the usable property up for sale.
“I spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees and environment fees to get this property separated so there was some value, usable portions,” remarked Fudoli. “Right now, currently two of the parcels that have value are sold, [Genesee Street], and the rest will be put into land conservancy. I am just waiting to go to close. As soon as I go to close, my intentions are to pay the taxes and move on.”
There is a signed contract in place and the anticipated closing date is set in September.
“One of the properties was supposed to close on July 15,” said Fudoli. “If it closed July 15 we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It is not what it appears. It is not like I am out there making money, and I am keeping the money, and not paying the property taxes. Some of it has no value at all. The Town of Cheektowaga over assessed.”
The fact that this issue came out into the public, Fudoli said he blames his opposing political opponents.
“I know for a fact someone on the Democratic committee said ‘go get this guy,’” said Fudoli. “I am not worried about paying the taxes. I am worried about the fact that they blew it out of proportion. None of these properties are in tax foreclosure. They’re late.”
Fudoli has asked that residents “just be patience with him.”
“I know it looks bad for a public official,” remarked Fudoli. “I apologize. It was vacant land and it was something that I inherited. It wasn’t like I owned it my whole life and decided not to pay the taxes. It wasn’t something that I intended not paying taxes on.”