N.Y. Superintendent of Insurance Urges Passage of Flood Relief Act Amendment

June 1, 2005

New York Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills is urging the State Legislature to approve a chapter amendment submitted by Gov. George Pataki which would broaden the scope of “The Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2005” and give Broome County homeowners whose properties were damaged in last month’s floods more time to file for reassessments.

“Governor Pataki is rightfully asking the Legislature to extend the deadline for eligible counties to opt-in to the Flood Assessment Relief Act and authorizes municipalities to offer additional property tax relief benefits to affected homeowners,” Superintendent Mills stated. “If passed, the amendment would also give homeowners in 21 storm-damaged counties up to three years to apply for and take advantage of the new benefit.”

Broome and 13 other counties – Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga and Ulster – are currently eligible to offer property tax relief to flood-damaged properties. Gov. Pataki’s proposed amendment would add Cayuga, Chautauqua, Columbia, Madison, Niagara, Putnam and Westchester counties to that list and give all 21 counties until July 1, 2005 to decide whether they want to opt-in.

State Senator Thomas Libous noted, “Governor Pataki’s and Superintendent Mills’ support was critical in helping the Legislature to pass the Flood Assessment Relief Act. It’s great when the State and community-minded companies like Security Mutual are able to come together to help our communities through hard times.”

Thousands of homes were severely damaged during the flooding caused by the April rain storms that hit much of the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley regions. “The Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2005” provides counties that suffered the most damage with the option of authorizing their municipalities to offer property tax relief to homeowners whose homes were either lost or experienced serious damage.

To allow eligible homeowners additional time to seek property tax relief, the Governor’s chapter amendment would allow homeowners up to three years to ask their local Board of Assessment Review for an adjustment in their assessments. The assessment of the home would be based on the condition of the property after the flood. In counties that opt-in, assessors would also be authorized to request that the assessments of seriously damaged homes be reduced.

Property assessments in most upstate counties are based upon the condition of a property as of the March 1 taxable status date. Therefore, if a home was destroyed or substantially impacted by the April floods, the owner’s September 2005 school taxes and January 2006 property taxes would be based on the March 1 condition of the property.

Property owners should check with their local assessor’s office to determine whether their county has opted to offer the benefit.

To request a reduction in their assessment due to flood damage, taxpayers will need to submit the RP-524 “Complaint on Real Property Assessment” application to their local Board of Assessment Review (BAR). Taxpayers should explain what damage they’ve suffered and provide any available documentation to assist the BAR in determining the dollar amount by which the assessment should be lowered.

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