December 1, 2021

Speedway sues Homer again

Gas station chain seeks 90% reduction in property tax assessment

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

People fill up their cars at the Speedway at routes 90 and 281 in Homer. The company is again challenging the town over its assessments on all of its properties throughout the town.

The town of Homer is being sued for the second time in as many years to reduce the property tax assessment of several gas stations by 90% — an effort that was dropped last year.

The town of Homer, assessor and a review board will head Sept. 15 to state Supreme Court in Cortland County to seek the dismissal of the suit filed by gas station chain Speedway, which is again seeking a 90% reduction.

“It’s basically the same lawsuit they filed last time,” said Town Attorney Pat Snyder. “They think their assessment should be dropped 90%, to 10% of what it is right now.”

In one set of documents with the court, the attorney for the company, based in Garden City, listed all of the Speedway properties in the town. However, documents for the Sept. 15 court date only lists one parcel.

The town assessed all the parcels at a total of a little more than $1.72 million, but Speedway is stating that it should be about 10% of that, about $172,000.

Lowering the assessment would shift that amount of the company’s tax burden to all taxable properties in town.

One of the properties in dispute, located at 31 S. West St., which was previously a Sunoco gas station and is now owned by Speedway, is valued at just over $1 million but according to court documents the company said it estimates the assessment should be just over $100,000.

Homer Assessor Brian Fitts had previously said if that was the case, he and some friends could buy the property, but he knows the company would never sell it at that price.

According to court documents, Speedway said the assessment is unlawful for a number of reasons, including “the property is wholly or partially exempt and the exemption is not indicated in the roll or is incorrectly calculated or applied” and that “the property is wholly or partially exempt and the exemption is not indicated in the roll or is incorrectly calculated and applied.”

However, Snyder said that it appears again that Speedway didn’t provide supporting information for its allegations.

“I’m assuming we’ll go through the same process and have the same result,” he said.

During the case in 2019 the dispute was eventually dropped.

Town Supervisor Fred Forbes said that continuously going through this process is time-consuming.

“It takes up Pat’s time, the assessor’s time,” Snyder said. “What is unique about this is there’s many more Speedways in the area and those aren’t being challenged. They’re only being challenged in the town of Homer.”