State Lawmakers joined by Local Officials and Tax Groups, Call for Immediate Property Tax Relief at Series of Press Conferences
Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson), Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun (R, C – Blooming Grove) and State Senator Vincent Leibell (R, C, I – Patterson) were joined by local officials, including Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco and Westchester County Legislator George Oros, as well as tax advocacy groups and residents in spearheading an effort throughout the Hudson Valley this week urging Albany’s legislative leaders to provide residents, especially seniors, with immediate property tax relief.
“In the Hudson Valley, where we already pay the highest property taxes in the nation, property tax bills are slated to go up by as much as 50 percent for some residents. The time for a formalized tax revolt has come and citizens statewide must demand that Albany take immediate action. It is all but certain that we will be returning to Albany to grapple with this horrible budget just passed by a ‘rubber stamp’ legislature and weak-kneed Governor, and when we do make it back to ‘spend city,’ the three New York city residents in the backroom of Albany, Inc. owe it to the people of this state to enact some meaningful property tax relief,” said Ball, who has been a longstanding advocate for reforming the state’s property tax system and sponsors the “Property Taxpayer Protection Act.”
Calhoun, who also sponsors the act, stated, “The STAR and Enhanced STAR programs, which I helped create in the Assembly as the Ranker on the Real Property Taxation Committee, are essential to ensuring long-term economic stability to the people of New York. Those on fixed incomes are hit particularly hard when New York City politicians overspend each April and need to come up with new sources of revenue without hurting their own constituency. It is unacceptable that the Democrat Majorities stole $1.6 billion from taxpayers when they eliminated the STAR rebate checks for this year, and I hope that this event today will be the catalyst for a broader statewide movement to save STAR and Enhanced STAR.”
The enacted 2009-10 State Budget eliminated the STAR Rebate Program (at a total of $1.6 million), which provided an average rebate to homeowners in the Mid-Hudson Region between $104 and $1,186, depending on each home’s individual assessment and income. Enhanced STAR recipients received even more to reflect seniors’, with moderate to low incomes, decreased ability to pay property tax bills, some of which reach $10,000 or more in this area. In total, the loss of the rebate check will cause residents within the 99th and 96th Assembly Districts to see a combined property tax increase of more than $23 million and $30 million, respectively.
In Yorktown, homeowners will lose an estimated total of $5,200,470 from the loss of the rebate program. Bianco stated, “I have been tracking and reporting on the continued demise of the STAR program and I am simply appalled. This continuous tax-and-spend policy implemented by the three men in the room is placing an unbearable tax burden on the backs of the residents of Yorktown and, in particular, the seniors who live on fixed incomes.”
In total, Westchester County residents will lose a combined $138.8 million from the loss of the rebate program. Oros stated, “This is further proof that the dysfunctional Albany legislators cannot kick their addiction to tax-and-spend policies. During these tough economic times people who live on fixed incomes, such as seniors, are being forced out of their homes because they cannot afford to pay rising taxes to support Albany’s spending habit. The people of this town, county and state need true reform supported by action and not more empty promises.”
Rockland County residents will lose a collective $37.2 million in STAR property tax relief. “The Governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature talk ‘shared sacrifice’ yet increase staff pay and hire relatives. Increasing the state budget by 9 percent while adding thousands of dollars in fees; passing along mandated costs to local governments; and then hitting us with an MTA tax for services we do not use is no more than a cruel joke that is crushing our neighbors here in Rockland,” said Rockland County Legislator and Minority Leader, Ed Day.
All homeowners, especially within the Mid-Hudson region where property values are among the highest in the nation, will see increases in their property tax bills due to the loss of the STAR rebate program. For example, residents in Wappingers will lose $5.6 million; Middletown residents will lose $3.3 million; Carmel residents will lose $4.8 million; Newburgh residents will lose $6.2 million; and, Haverstraw-Stony Point residents will lose $9.3 million.
Additionally, the budget cut $3.3 million in financial assistance for local governments’ implementation of the STAR program, along with a cut of $217,000 to improve assessment standards and for local assessor training reimbursements. Coupled with the increased costs for school districts, which were not covered in the state aid levels for 2009-10, and municipal aid cuts, some taxpayers in the region could face significant increases in their property tax bills, estimated to range upwards of 30 to 50 percent, especially for seniors who are most affected by the loss of the rebate program.