Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed legislation proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to provide financial relief for city residents who had faced higher property taxes as a result of repairs to homes severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The legislation lowers a homeowner’s property tax liability for the 2015 fiscal year to the pre-storm, 2013 fiscal year amount. Under previous law, city residents who merely restored a building to its condition prior to the storm faced an increase in their property’s assessed valuation – and would therefore experience an increase in real property taxes. In an attempt to help these owners, the legislation authorizes the city to enact a law granting a partial abatement of real property taxes so owners will not have to incur the increases in fiscal year 2015.
“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, homeowners across the downstate region were forced to invest in significant repairs to make their homes more resilient – investments that would increase their taxes under normal circumstances,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “Sandy was not a normal circumstance, however, and I will not allow taxes to be raised on property owners simply because they are repairing the damage that was done and planning wisely for the future.”
“This legislation will ensure that homeowners are protected as they look to build back better, stronger, and safer for the new reality of extreme weather,” Cuomo continued.
De Blasio thanked the mayor for signing the legislation that garnered bi-partisan support in the Assembly and state Senate.
“Property owners recovering from Sandy shouldn’t be forced to pay higher taxes simply becasue they rebuilt – and now they won’t,” de Blasio said. “We proposed this legislation because New Yorkers who have already been through so much deserve this basic relief.”
Queens legislators too praised the legislation, saying it was a move that would bring some relief to individuals who have been financially hemorrhaging following Sandy.
“A year and a half after Sandy, many of my constituents and other storm victims around New York City are still struggling to get back on their feet, repair their homes and businesses, and otherwise recover from this horrific weather event,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), a co-sponsor of the property relief bill.
“The last thing these residents needed to endure were higher property tax bills even as they seek to rebuild their lives and our communities,” Addabbo continued. “Recovering from this storm is still a frustrating process. This law will help us to continue this vital progress.”
To qualify for the abatement, an eligible property must meet the following criteria: The city Department of Finance reduced the assessed valuation of the building on the property for fiscal year 2014 from the assessed valuation for the 2013 fiscal year as a result of damage caused by Sandy; the Finance Department increased the assessed valuation of the building for 2015 from its assessed valuation for 2014; and the assessed valuation of the building for 2015 exceeds that for 2013.
By Anna Gustafson