New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED 5/26/2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MILLS URGES PASSAGE OF FLOOD RELIEF ACT AMENDMENT

        BINGHAMTON, NY--Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills today urged the State Legislature to approve a chapter amendment submitted by Governor George E. 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. Governor 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 W. Libous said: "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." The Superintendent’s press conference today was held at Security Mutual in Binghamton.

        Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said: "I am co-sponsoring the amendment in the Assembly which includes additional counties and extends the opt-in deadline for the Flood Relief Act of 2005. It is important that homeowners affected by the flood are given ample opportunity to have their property reassessed."

        Binghamton Mayor Richard Bucci said: "Extending the deadline for this important initiative provides critical flexibility for local governments working to assist vulnerable homeowners in need of aid."

        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 1st 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 1st 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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