Cahill and Bonacic Introduce Legislation to Help Flood Victims

April 20, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) and State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C – Mount Hope) introduced legislation today to help homeowners whose property value has been adversely impacted by the recent disastrous flooding.

Under current law, in most upstate counties, a homeowner’s property taxes are based upon the assessed value of their home as of a March 1st taxable status date. Therefore, if a home was destroyed or substantially impacted in the April floods, the owner would still have to pay taxes based on the March 1st condition or value of the property.

The legislation would allow taxpayers whose property was seriously damaged to grieve their assessment to the local Board of Assessment Review. The Board would then re-value the property based on the value of the home after the flood. In addition, under the legislation, local assessors are authorized to request that the assessments of seriously damaged homes be valued after the flood. This means that property owners would not have to grieve their property values if the local assessor sought administratively to reduce the assessment after the flood. Town of Ulster Assessor James Maloney said he plans on lowering the values of the impacted homes in the Town of Ulster if the legislation becomes law.

"Many victims of the recent flooding were left without even the basic necessities. Those who have lost their homes will never be made whole. However, this is a compassionate measure that will allow those who have lost so much not to be unfairly taxed," Senator Bonacic stated.

The bill was suggested by Maloney, who is also a County Legislator. "Legislator Maloney should be congratulated for using the knowledge he has as an assessor to help the people he represents as a County Legislator. His suggestion was a good one and one I am pleased to support," Senator Bonacic said. The bill would not be a mandate. In order to implement the provisions of the bill in affected County, the County Legislature would have to vote to opt into the legislation.

"I applaud both Senator Bonacic and Assemblymember Cahill for doing everything possible to help the people that were devastated by the flood. The damage was widespread and impacted many New Yorkers," Maloney said.

Assemblymember Cahill stated, "Many families in our communities suffered devastating losses as a result of the recent flooding. This legislation will make possible immediate and necessary relief to taxpayers as they work to rebuild their homes and lives."