By Mark McGuire
CAPITOL — Owners of flood-damaged properties in 10 counties still paying taxes based on pre-deluge assessments could be getting a break under the 2014-15 New York state budget.
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, said legislation she worked to have included in the budget allows impacted businesses and homeowners to have their properties reassessed in order to reflect a decreased post-flood value.
The Mohawk Valley and Niagara County Assessment Relief Act incorporates Montgomery, Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Tompkins, Cortland, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Niagara counties. It allows municipalities in those counties to opt-in to provide tax assessment relief for owners impacted by severe floods between June 20 and Aug. 9 last year. Owners of significantly damaged properties could then apply for reassessments.
“All we can do on the state level is give them an option to opt in and allow the assessed value to be reduced,” Tkaczyk said. “To get a tax bill on a property you may not be able to inhabit, or you have to tear down to rebuild, is unbearable. It’s not fair.”
She said up to 250 property owners in Fort Plain alone could benefit. “This helps the taxpayer stay in the local community,” the senator said.
Tkaczyk initially offered legislation for Montgomery County last fall. The initiative was expanded to 10 counties. Property owners affected by previous flooding from, say, Irene, are not part of the relief since taxes on those properties for the year affected have already been paid.