Ulster lawmaker calls for finance boss to be put on leave pending probe – Daily Freeman

KINGSTON, NY – An Ulster County lawmaker has called for the county’s finance commissioner to be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the county’s failure to foreclose on a local property whose owner owes more than $ 10 million in back taxes.

Legislator Joseph Maloney said that placing Finance Commissioner Burt Gulnick on leave pending an investigation will “alleviate fears regarding the performance, if not the conduct of the finance commissioner” as well as concerns over potential conflicts of interest if Gulnick is responsible for determining what documents can be released as part of that investigation.

“The people of this county have a right to know what happened with this property and a right to know if it has happened with other properties in Ulster,” Maloney, D-Saugerties, said in an April 29 statement. “I have suggested this may be due to relationships, but at the very least it appears to be a lack of oversight, basic controls and process, all of which is unacceptable.”

Maloney first called for an investigation into the county’s failure to foreclose on 701 Grant Ave. following an April 19 meeting of the County Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee meeting. Although the property has appeared on the county’s foreclosure lists, including in 2020, in each instance it has been subsequently pulled from the list and no foreclosure proceedings have ever been initiated.

At that meeting and again in his release, Maloney suggested that pay-to-play politics could be the reason the property owner has been allowed to avoid paying property taxes for more than a decade, pointing out that the property owner made campaign contributions to former County Executive Michael Hein at a time when Gulnick served as Hein’s campaign treasurer.

It was that suggestion that prompted Gulnick to walk out of the committee meeting.

The office building located at 701 Grant Ave. is owned by Ulster Acquisition I LLC, a real estate firm located in New York City. According to the county executive’s office, $ 10,104,565 in back taxes is owed on the property.

According to records filed in the County Clerk’s Office, Ulster Acquisition I LLC has filed numerous challenges to its assessment, going back to 2013.

Following the April 19 committee meeting, Comptroller March Gallagher announced that her office would expand an audit of the county’s real property collection process already underway to include the property at 701 Grant Ave.

County Executive Pat Ryan declined to comment on Maloney’s call for Gulnick to be placed on administrative leave.

In a prepared statement, Deputy County Executive Chris Kelly said the Ryan administration has “from day one” been aggressive in its efforts to foreclose on Tech City, a former IBM property that he said was the county’s “single biggest delinquent property.” That property was owned by downstate developer Alan Ginsberg and was not affiliated with the property at 701 Grant Ave.

Kelly said the administration has also developed a “brownfields reclamation program” and has begun discussions with members of our Legislature to help inform a countywide policy for the provision of foreclosure-eligible properties which will provide us with the tools and processes necessary to deal. with this (property) in a responsible and expeditious manner. ”

Leave a Comment