Can we ease the property tax bite?
1 of 1 State Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, third from left at table, who heads the Assembly’s Real Property Taxation Committee, talks with John McCarey, Orange County’s director of real property services, yesterday during a hearing in Middletown.THR/TOM BUSHEY By Chris McKenna

Times Herald-Record
September 27, 2007
Middletown — What should the state do to rein in rising property taxes?

Close loopholes and correct inequities so that everybody at least pays their fair share?

Or something more radical, like scrap the whole system and fund public schools primarily with an income tax instead of property taxes?

Speaker after speaker weighed in on both approaches yesterday as they sat before a state Assembly committee at the Paramount Theatre and swung away at everyone's favorite pinata — the property-tax system.

A main topic in the wonkish discussion was the perceived abuse of tax-exempt status by nonprofit groups — a longstanding complaint in Sullivan County towns such as Fallsburg, where 40 percent of the properties are off the tax rolls.

Critics complained of "land-banking" by nonprofits that enjoy a full exemption on huge tracts, despite using only a small portion of the land in question — and only for part of the year.

Maybe the solution is to waive a nonprofit's taxes for no more than 5 acres and collect them for its remaining acreage, suggested John LiGreci, the Lumberland supervisor.

"We need to somehow find a cap to prevent them from land-backing, which they've been doing for 30 years," he said.

The hearing was the second in a traveling road show organized by the Assembly's Real Property Taxation Committee, which is gathering public input on a host of property-tax reform proposals. Its next session is scheduled for Oct. 17 on Long Island.

Another hot topic yesterday was a proposal to eliminate a decades-old tax break for condominiums and co-op apartments, requiring that they be assessed the same way as single-family homes. The bill would apply only to condos built after Jan. 1, 2008.

Supporters — including Orange County Legislator Jeff Berkman, D-C-Middletown, said the legislation would correct a glaring inequity in the tax system.

But another Orange County legislator, Tom Pahucki, D-C-Town of Goshen, who is also a Realtor, argued that raising condo taxes would make affordable housing even more elusive for senior citizens, young families and others with modest incomes in Orange County.

Both Berkman and Pahucki agreed the state should redefine "condominium" to prevent developers from passing off single-family houses as condos — an increasingly common abuse that helped inspire legislation to drop the condo tax break.

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Reader Reaction These discussions and our forums are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. You need not be registered to report abuse. In accordance with our Terms of Service, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms. Click here if you wish to report inappropriate comments or behavior. View all UpsetSeptember 27, 2007 03:10 PM It won't be long before my family and I are taxed out of NY. It amazes me how much they go up (every year) and our services remain flat. So, to answer the question can we ease the property tax bite? No, unfortunately we cannot without a complete revolt from ALL the taxpayers. Having only a few complainers will not shake the ones in power. Full MessageRovingRaySeptember 27, 2007 02:40 PM The answer is simple--get rid of the tax raising crazed politicians.......the more taxes you pay the less service you get while the politicians use your tax dollars on their favorite pork barrel items. I agree with waldo. I, too, live below the Mason-Dixon Line and my total annual tax bill on my 7 acres and my 6 room large home is $452.00. Full Messagejohnc66September 27, 2007 11:24 AM It would also be nice if the full amount of lottery revenue was used to fund education, as it was originally intended! Full MessagehantrukSeptember 27, 2007 09:29 AM What is interesting about condominiums being taxed, is that they seem to think because they take up less land, they should be taxed less. Whereas the opposite is the actual problem. If you have 1 house on 2 acres sending 2 kids to school, they are using less resources than 8 condos sending ,let's say 12 kids to school. So if you get $8,000 dollars from the 2 acre house , and you get $24,000 from the 8 condos cobined (at $3,000 a piece). There is an obvious inequity and an unfair load to bare by the single homeowner. Full MessageyohomeeSeptember 27, 2007 09:14 AM we can east the tax hike if folks stop suing for stupi sh!t Full MessagewaldoSeptember 27, 2007 08:56 AM To all homeowners still in NYS forgetaboutit....your doomed. Two more houses less than a mile from me were both purchased by my fellow northeners. Of course we live below the Mason-Dixon where property taxes shall we say are a snap. I currently pay $517.00 per yr on 4 acres.If you can't move, submit your tax bill to ole Mexico. Good luck. Full Messagejohnny500September 27, 2007 08:44 AM Amen to that...NY is second only to NJ in property tax rates for the ENTIRE NATION...Corruption at every level of our Government and the outright ABUSE of the system by these "non-profits" are making Orange County uninhabitable for the rest of us! MAKE THEM PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE! Full MessageexposecorruptionSeptember 27, 2007 08:35 AM Can we ease the property tax bite? is not the question. The question should be CAn we get rid off the Corrupted Public Servants? by doing this no tax money will be use for pay off's and kick backs. Full Message