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Legislature Considers, But Does Not Approve Making Request for Local-Option Property Exemption

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Legislature Considers, But Does Not Approve Making Request for Local-Option Property Exemption

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Legislators discussed, but in a split vote vote failed to approve a proposal to request to New York State to amend the Real Property Tax Law to allow a local Tompkins County option to provide a partial exemption for multi-unit residential properties converted to owner-occupied residences, as has been authorized as a local option for several other cities. Proposed as a potential way to encourage owner-occupied housing, the exemption, if requested and approved by the State, then adopted by the Legislature, would have prevented any increase in assessment in the first year, then slowly add the increase to the tax base over the next seven years.

After considerable discussion, the vote was 7-6, with Legislators Jim Dennis, Glenn Morey, Dave McKenna, Mike Sigler, Peter Stein, and Chair Michael Lane voting no, with Legislator Will Burbank excused)—failing to muster the 8 votes required for passage. Several Legislators said they felt there were too many unanswered questions at this point, and that it might have the adverse consequence of reducing rental units. Legislator Martha Robertson, who maintained that the idea has promise, said the County would simply be asking the State to approve the option, and that there would be more time to consider it before any final decision, but Chair Lane said that if the Legislature would be making such a request from the State, it should be prepared to adopt the measure, if granted.