Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimates that taxpayers would reap an average rebate of $350 a year if the state freezes property taxes for two years.
The savings would be less upstate – where taxes are lower than in the New York City area – and local governments are questioning whether they could find the savings needed to be eligible, Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported over the weekend.
“I think there are many municipalities that have done the right thing already and might not be able to take advantage of that freeze,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “So I would ask that proposal be re-looked at.”
Here’s the breakdown from the state Budget Division:
“It is a relief to homeowners, but it is also something else,” Cuomo said his budget address Jan. 21. “It is an opportunity to fundamentally address the structural cause of high property taxes.”
In his budget plan, Cuomo proposed that the state would pay about $1 billion in each of the next two years to provide rebates to homeowners.
The rebate would be the difference between keeping property taxes flat and the increase under the state’s property-tax cap, which this year is less than 2 percent.
Cuomo’s budget office estimated that when fully implemented in the second year, which would be 2015, the average rebate would be $200 upstate and $580 in the New York City suburbs. Westchester County pays the highest property taxes in the nation, and the rebate check there would average at least $800.
Overall, 2.8 million households would get a check. It would be for households with incomes less than $500,000.
In the first year, taxpayers would get a check starting this fall on their school taxes — estimated on average of $130 — if their district stays under the property-tax cap. The cap for schools in the fiscal year that starts July 1 is a 1.46 percent tax-levy increase.
In 2015, homeowners would get a rebate check if their local governments stay under the cap, which is adjusted each year for the rate of inflation. For municipalities this year, which mainly run on a calendar fiscal year, the cap was 1.66 percent.