Mattress firm disputes tax bill; eyes new site

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During that time, the company has paid no taxes on its 1 Mechanic St. property, according to Rensselaer County Attorney Stephen Pechenik. He said that the county is owed in excess of $1 million in back taxes, including interest and penalties, levied by the town, village, and local school district.

"From 2007 forward, they just haven't paid their taxes," said Pechenik Monday.

As a result, that property is now in the process of foreclosure. Pechenik said he will move toward a summary judgment in the case, resulting in a tax sale possibly later this year or next spring.

WCW Inc. Chairman John W. Wilkinson Sr., said Monday that he was not prepared to make a statement regarding the foreclosure process, but that the issue warranted "a lot" of clarifying.

"We have been in appeal since 2007, and it's currently being held in tax court with no adjudication since our last appeal," he said. "We've been waiting. And in the interim, we've made the decision to leave."

Wilkinson said the company was current with its tax obligations on two other properties in the town of Hoosick, as well as on a third property on River Street in Bennington, Vt.

WCW, which is considering a second interstate move in five years, was formed in Bennington by Wilkinson in 1998. Manufacturing took place both there and in Hoosick for a number of years before the company purchased two Mechanic Street parcels in 2006, subsequently relocating its entire manufacturing operation to New York.

A Bennington town records clerk confirmed that the property at 311 River St., owned by JW Properties and maintained as a company call center, was current with its tax obligations.

Hoosick Town Assessor Tony Rice said Monday that JW Realty/WCW had purchased the Mechanic Street property in Hoosick Falls during a sale of distress for $400,000 in May 2006. The property had been vacant since 2001. The full value on the town assessment rolls at the time of purchase was $10,380,078.

Rice disputed that WCW had paid taxes for fiscal year 2011 on any of its Hoosick properties.

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After the company filed its initial grievance in 2007, Rice said he reassessed the property at $1,740,035, an amount which WCW still found unsatisfactory.

Later that year, a judge ordered court ready appraisals to be done by both the town and WCW. Rice said that to date, WCW had not submitted its appraisal to the court.

In 2011, the two Mechanic Street parcels were valued at $2,081,802 by the town.

WCW sent a letter of intent recently to the city of North Adams, Mass., outlining a potential purchase of the former Sprague building in the Hardman Industrial Park on Route 8. City officials there will review a Special Tax Assessment package on that property during a city council meeting later this month, which would grant the company tax breaks over the first five years should WCW relocate to North Adams.

Wilkinson confirmed that the company was seeking to relocate from Hoosick, but said that to date there had been no definitive plans made. He identified North Adams and Manchester, Vt., as the two "most likely" candidates being considered.

In its letter of intent to the city of North Adams, company President Jeff Wilkinson said that WCW was seeking to consolidate all its operations "under one roof."

The move would involve approximately 100 jobs, a portion of which -- namely current employees not willing to relocate or commute -- would be filled by local residents.

North Adams residents and officials have heralded the news of the city possibly gaining manufacturing jobs.

The bedding company also predicts strong future growth. WCW says it is a leading manufacturer of medical, consumer, and hospitality sleep systems. Its Natural Form chiropractic memory foam mattresses can be found in every Hilton Garden Inn worldwide, the company said.

Contact Zeke Wright at ewright@benningtonbanner.com.


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