Bonacic Hosts Public Hearing: Opening The Door To Homeownership

John J. Bonacic

January 25, 2005

State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mount Hope), Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development, today listened to testimony during the first of five public hearings focusing on the total cost of homeownership and how to make it more affordable to New Yorkers.

Senator Bonacic sought input on his legislation, Senate bill 164, which would allow voters to decide whether they want to abolish the school property tax on homes and shift the local share of the costs to an income tax based system. The groups that presented testimony were: the New York State Assessor’s Association, New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Rural Housing Coalition, and the New York State Association of Realtors. The public was also invited to testify.

"This legislation was introduced to provide a realistic solution to the ever increasing and inequitable property tax burden placed on New York’s homeowners to fund our schools. I was pleased representatives from a variety of organizations testified, providing valuable input which will help build upon the foundation of this proposal to help craft structural reform," stated Senator Bonacic.

Senator Bonacic continued, "The input today was a positive step and will be extremely helpful in creating a broader tax method which will make homeownership more affordable for the middle class, those working to become part of the middle class, and seniors who no longer have a great income level, without compromising our children’s education."

According to the New York State Assessors Association, "The property tax is not a great way to finance education." The Association is "strongly in favor of whatever types of changes can be made to the current system of school tax funding that will reduce the real property tax burden on the taxpayers of New York State."

Blair Sebastian, Executive Director of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition, opened his remarks by thanking the Senator for "this opportunity to comment on your forward thinking proposal and to discuss the impact of the property tax on affordable housing in this State."

Senator Bonacic is planning to host several more public hearings on his legislation during the upcoming months in a variety of locations throughout New York State. "I hope to obtain as much input as possible from as many individuals and groups who are impacted by this proposal. The goal is to create a strong, equitable, and sound public policy," concluded Senator Bonacic.