Assemblymember Cahill: Governor Signs Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2005

Affected Counties must act immediately in the face of May 24th deadline
May 22, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) announced that the Governor has signed into law the "Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2005" (A.7625-a/S.5218-a).

The new law, introduced in the Assembly by Mr. Cahill, is an effort to help victims of last month’s flooding in the Hudson Valley, Catskill and Southern Tier regions of the state. It provides affected counties with the option, after first consulting with local governments, to affirmatively allow taxpayers whose property was severely impacted by the floods 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 floods. Counties who wish to opt into the provisions of the law will only have a small window of opportunity to do so. They must have the law implemented by Tuesday, May 24th, when most Boards of Assessment Review will be meeting to hear grievances.

"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 law has the potential to provide our communities with the opportunity to offer immediate relief to the victims of this natural disaster, but counties and assessors must act quickly if they are to achieve their goal before the Boards of Assessment Review convene on Tuesday."

The Assembly passed Mr. Cahill’s legislation, with overwhelming bi-partisan support, on May 11th. The Senate, however, waited an additional week before taking up the measure in their house, finally putting it to a vote on May 18th. "I applaud the Governor for acting so quickly to sign this bill into law," said Mr. Cahill.

The unprecedented amount of damage caused by the April floods led to the declaration of a Federal Disaster Area for eighteen counties and forced hundreds of people from their homes. 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. Many homes were heavily damaged or completely destroyed during the floods, and consequently no longer hold the same value as they did when first assessed.

This act provides 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 reassess the property based on the value of the home after the flood. Furthermore, the law 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 relief measure gives counties the opportunity 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. "Adoption of this law at the local level is all about our sense of community. It will essentially ensure that our friends and neighbors, who have already lost so much as a result of the flooding, will have their properties fairly taxed immediately," he concluded.