HV Lawmakers Weigh In On Governor's Property Tax Credit Plan

Jan 15, 2015

Credit Donkey Hotey/Flickr

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wednesday unveiled the first proposal for his upcoming state-of-the-state address. He’s calling for property-tax relief for middle-class homeowners. The Hudson Valley has some of the highest property taxes in the state, and lawmakers have mixed reaction to the plan. 

Governor Cuomo has proposed a more than $1.6 billion property tax credit program. His announcement came at Hofstra University on Long Island, in Nassau County, home to some of the highest property taxes in New York.

“Based on your income, up to $250,000, depending on what you pay, over 6 percent of your income, and on a sliding scale. The less you make the more of a subsidy,” says Cuomo. “But it would be the first property tax cut.”

Cuomo says his plan builds upon the success of his property tax cap and property tax freeze initiatives.

“This will be the first time there’s an actual cut,” says Cuomo. “And that is significant, significant progress on what I believe is the major problem facing this state.”

The lower Hudson Valley also is home to some of the highest property taxes in the state, even the country. Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who ran against Cuomo in November and was criticized by the incumbent for the county’s high taxes, takes issue with the proposal.

“It’s not a tax cut. It’s not a tax plan that’s new. It’s an old thing that was bandied about. And all it does is just create more winners and losers. It takes and gives,” says Astorino. “And it does not do anything to stop the problem which is high taxes are the result of high spending. And unless we get spending in New York under control, prioritized, it’s going to continue to drive people out of New York.”

Here’s Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti of Westchester.

“The governor’s proposal is a mini version of the circuit breaker, which the Assembly has supported for many years, where the state reimburses property taxpayers for a portion for a portion of their property taxes on a sliding scale based on income,” says Abinanti. “Our assembly plan would provide much more property tax relief, but the governor’s adaptation is a good start.”

He adds:

“I am concerned that the governor’s proposal should be combined with additional revenues from other sources and not be used as an excuse to continue to drain moneys from our schools and our local municipalities.”

Cuomo is scheduled to deliver his state-of-the-state speech January 21, a day of different import for Astorino.

“I become president of the [New York State] County Executives' Association starting next Wednesday, the day of the speech, and so I will certainly lend my voice not only as Westchester County executive but representing the counties across the state in things that have to change. Otherwise it’s just going to be the same old story with just a different headline.”

Newly-elected Republican state Senator from Dutchess County Sue Serino says she is concerned small business owners are left out of the equation.

“I am a small business owner so I completely understand the need to provide real property tax relief for both homeowners and local businesses,” says Serino. “And I think that’s what I’m afraid of might be getting left out with the governor’s plan.”

Serino in November defeated Democrat Terry Gipson, who, in a statement, says the plan is a good one, especially for the Hudson Valley. He, like Abinanti, referenced the circuit breaker concept.

State Senator David Carlucci, an Independent Democrat representing Rockland and parts of Westchester, praises Cuomo for bringing the issue of property taxes to the forefront of the new legislative session, saying he looks forward to hearing more details. He adds that a comprehensive plan that will provide Hudson Valley residents with relief from skyrocketing property taxes deserves immediate consideration.

When the plan is fully phased-in, Cuomo says more than 1.3 million homeowners will receive an average credit of $950. For downstate suburbs, the number of homeowners would be more than 226,000 with an average credit of $1,100. The plan also includes relief for renters.