Correction: This article has been modified to correct a mis-typed word in the first quote by Common Council President Thomas DePietro. He said Galvan refused to admit their ‘complicity’ in the demise of the project, not their ‘complacency.’
Eric Galloway, one of the principals behind the controversial Galvan Foundation, filed suit against the City of Hudson last month to lower the assessed values on two of his personal properties.
Galloway is suing to have the assessed values on his two Allen Street properties more than halved, which would allow him to pay far less in property taxes.
Galloway is the “Gal” in the Galvan Foundation, a non-profit developer and philanthropic organization that owns about 80 properties in the city of 6,000. The Galvin Foundation withdrew a proposal earlier this week to build an affordable housing complex in Hudson when it could not convince the city’s Common Council to grant the project tax breaks.
Galvan was seeking a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for the 77-unit project, wherein a developer is allowed to forgo normal property tax payments and instead pay the taxing jurisdiction much smaller annual sums. It is a common request for affordable housing projects.
Galvan significantly modified the PILOT after the Common Council voted it down July 21 but withdrew the proposal shortly before this week’s Common Council meeting in a letter saying the foundation was unable to tally the needed council votes despite the modifications.
In a rebuttal to the letter, Common Council President Thomas DePietro read a prepared statement at the council meeting saying the Galvan Foundation “refused to acknowledge their complicity” in the proposal’s demise and brought up Eric Galloway’s suit against the city.
“Make sure you got that clear,” he said. “The principals behind a foundation that is asking for a tax reduction are now suing the city to reduce the taxes on their house.”
Galloway’s two properties were assessed at $923,000 prior to the contentious 2019 city-wide reassessment, where many homeowners saw their property values double or triple. The properties were first reassessed that year at just over $2 million.
Galloway then contested the assessments as part of the normal Grievance Process, according to county Real Property Tax Service Agency Director Suzette Booy, and was able to get the assessments lowered slightly, to $1.9 million, according to property tax records.
Though the properties’ values did not change in the 2020 assessments, Galloway again contested them through the Grievance Process, according to court documents. The city refused to lower the assessments, and Galloway filed an Article 7 lawsuit to bring the matter to court, according to court documents.
The suit is seeking to lower the assessments from $1.9 million to $870,000 – lower than in 2018, before property values doubled or tripled during the city-wide assessment.
In response to several written questions from TOHV, Eric Galloway emailed the following statement:
“Galvan Foundation trustee’s individual choices regarding their private residence should have no bearing on the Common Council’s decision to deny 77 low-income households affordable housing and deny minority-owned businesses access to affordable commercial space. It is disturbing that this was cited as an acceptable reason to oppose a housing project which is so desperately needed, especially during a historic recession.
“Hudson’s Common Council made a promise to support development of affordable housing. They broke this promise, and offered no explanation except for personal attacks. The Common Council owes it to the City to clarify what it will take for them to finally support affordable housing development,” the statement read.
DePietro did not cite the suit as a reason for opposing the project. He in fact was one of five council members who voted in support of the PILOT during the July 21 Common Council meeting, when the resolution did not gather enough votes to pass.
Property owners commonly contest their assessments through the Grievance Process, and it is not unheard of to file a lawsuit if this does not work, though the property owner needs to be wealthy enough to afford attorneys.