Cahill Announces Passage of the Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2005

May 11, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) announced the passage of Assembly bill A.7625-a. The bill, entitled "The Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2005", is an effort to help victims of last month’s flooding in the Hudson Valley, Catskill and Southern Tier regions of the state. The unprecedented amount of damage led to the declaration of a Federal Disaster Area for eighteen counties and forced hundreds of people from their homes. The measure passed the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support.

"The impact of the April floods brought about a level of devastation never before experienced for many residents throughout the affected regions," said Assemblymember Cahill. "This legislation will provide our communities with the opportunity to come together as neighbors to provide immediate relief to the victims of this natural disaster."

Under current law, in most counties, a homeowner’s property taxes are based upon the assessed value of their home as of a March 1st "taxable status" date. Therefore, if a home was destroyed or substantially impacted in the April floods, the owner would still have to pay taxes based on the March 1st condition or value of the property. "My bill will give counties the option, after first consulting with local governments, to allow for the valuation of property to reflect the actual value as it stands today for residents whose homes were severely impacted by the floods," said Mr. Cahill.

Many homes were heavily damaged or completely destroyed during the floods, and consequently no longer hold the same value as they did on March 1, 2005. This legislation would also provide impacted counties with the option of affirmatively allowing taxpayers whose property was seriously damaged to grieve their assessment to their local Board of Assessment Review. The Board could then revalue the property based on the value of the home after the flood. Furthermore, the bill provides local assessors with the authorization to request that the assessments of seriously damaged homes be given the after-flood value, without requiring a separate request by the property owner. This measure will avoid adding insult to injury for our friends and neighbors, who have already lost so much as a result of the flooding, by ensuring that their property will be fairly taxed immediately. Counties would have until May 24th to opt into the provisions of the law.

"I would like to commend Assemblymember Cahill for all his hard work in bringing this forth with Senator Bonacic for the benefit of all affected residents," said James Maloney, Town of Ulster Assessor and Ulster County Legislator representing district five. It was a bipartisan resolution of the Ulster County Legislature that first requested this local option.

"I am grateful to have been able to guide this critical measure through the Assembly," said Mr. Cahill. "Time is running out. It is now up to Senator Bonacic to convince his colleagues to pass this legislation so that we can deliver it to Governor Pataki to be signed into law as soon as possible. Without Senate action, communities who wish to provide this relief to the flood victims will not be able to do so," Mr. Cahill concluded. The Senate concluded business today without acting on Senator Bonacic’s legislation.