Mayor pushes for tax relief for Sandy victims

Mayor pushes for tax relief for Sandy victims
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
By Karen Frantz

Homeowners particularly hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy may soon receive some property tax relief under two proposals being pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Under the first proposal, some homeowners would be given an interest-free, three-month grace period before they would need to pay their city property taxes, which would be due April 1 instead of the usual date of Jan. 1. The second proposal would give homeowners a rebate of about $700 on their property taxes.

“These two tax relief measures will, taken together, provide some help for New Yorkers who really need it and need it now,” Bloomberg said at a news conference at a restoration center in Staten Island last Thursday.

If passed, the tax extension and rebate would be available to homeowners whose houses have been given a red tag by the city Department of Buildings, meaning they need extensive repairs or are damaged beyond repair. About 3,000 properties would be given the extension and 900 would be eligible for the rebate.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said at the news conference the Council will take up the extension proposal at its next stated meeting Dec. 10.

“There’s nothing we can do to bring back everything people lost, but I hope this action shows that the city is thinking creatively, is listening and trying to do everything we can to make the tough times after Sandy a little easier,” she said.

Bloomberg said the rebate would need to be passed by the state Legislature, and he is urging it to do so when it convenes in January.

The cost of both proposals to the city would be minimal, Bloomberg said. He said about $1.5 million in tax collections would be deferred at an average of $500 per effected property. In addition, the rebates would cost about $760,000, compared to $19 billion collected in property taxes in the fiscal year.

“We expect the measures that we’re proposing today will have a very small effect on the city’s finances,” Bloomberg said.

In addition to the property tax proposals, Bloomberg said the city Department of Finance is working to ensure the next round of property tax assessments will reflect post-hurricane conditions.

City Finance Commissioner David Frankel said the Department of Finance is working on the tentative assessment role for fiscal year 2014, and said homeowners will soon be able to send reports of damage to their houses through an application either online or at city recovery centers.

“We want to make sure that next year’s assessments reflect the impact of the storm,” he said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.