Skelos And Long Island State Senate Delegation Unveil Property Tax Relief Plan

Dean G. Skelos

January 03, 2006

Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Long Island’s State Senate Delegation today met at the Levittown home of Mike and Donna Normandia and their two children to announce a new proposal to help alleviate the burden placed on LI’s property taxpayers. Through the State Senate’s REBATE-NY plan, homeowners in Nassau and Suffolk counties would receive $532.8 million in school tax rebate checks directly from New York State and save another $71 million through larger state school tax exemptions. In addition, REBATE-NY reforms various aspects of the school budgeting process and school district management, promotes local government efficiency and establishes a "Blue Ribbon" commission to review rising school spending and district financing.

To investigate the underlying causes of the rising property tax burden imposed upon homeowners, the NYS Senate commissioned a study conducted by the internationally-recognized consulting firm Global Insight which reveals Long Island’s total local government (including school district) and education spending exceeds both the statewide average and that for downstate suburban counties.

While school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties receive $270 million (74%) and $515 million (60%), respectively, more each year than they did a decade ago, the average property tax bill for Nassau County households is 87% above the statewide mean and 24% higher than the downstate suburban region. In Suffolk County, the average property tax burden is 47% above the statewide amount, but 3% lower than the downstate suburban mean. Notably, money saved by Long Island homeowners through the state’s School Tax Relief ("STAR") program has helped lower these figures.

REBATE-NY School Tax Rebate Program

Under the tax rebate plan, LI homeowners would receive $532.8 million in direct rebate checks from NYS. This would be in addition to the homeowner’s STAR school tax exemption. To help homeowners pay their 2006 property tax bills, the state would begin issuing rebate checks in September 2006. In 2006, the rebate would equal 30% of the homeowner’s STAR savings for the 2005-06 school year, with the rebate rising to 50% in 2007 and 75% in 2008. Because of Long Island’s high school taxes, rebate checks to Nassau and Suffolk County residents would be among the state’s largest.

"High property taxes are a quality-of-life issue," said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos "The more that school districts and local governments tax homeowners, the less money parents have to provide for their families. This plan provides real relief to Long Island homeowners and it fundamentally reforms the system to ease the property tax burden in the future and provide taxpayers with greater control over school district spending."

"New York State has consistently worked to offer tax relief to homeowners and this plan will deliver a much needed package to continue those efforts," stated Senator Fuschillo. "From tax rebates that are delivered directly to New York residents to enhancing existing tax relief programs, this package will enable Long Island to fully fund the superb educational system our children enjoy while delivering needed change."

"High property taxes have a crippling effect on every community, every taxpayer," said Senator Johnson, (R-C, Babylon) Chairman of the Finance Committee. "Local taxpayers all across Long Island are in need of significant property tax relief. This plan would give relief to struggling homeowners in the form of direct rebates and would also control costs at the local level that impact property taxes."

"Public education and the ability of people to remain in their communities are being threatened as we totter on the brink of a real property tax crisis," Senator Kenneth LaValle said (R-Port Jefferson). "We must act quickly to reduce the overwhelming tax burden being placed on homeowners if we are to maintain a quality education system, a vital workforce, and a strong and thriving economy."

"Homeowners on Long Island, particularly senior citizens, are struggling to keep up with the rising property tax burden. The bottom line is that Long Islanders and all New Yorkers are paying too much in property taxes," said Senator Michael A.L. Balboni (R - East Williston). "The REBATE-NY plan will build on the success of the STAR program and provide every homeowner with a property tax rebate check, mailed to their house each year. It's a comprehensive strategy to bring badly needed and meaningful property tax relief to New York State taxpayers."