Hearing scheduled on tax exemption

A series of public hearings have been set for Tuesday, May 5, to discuss a measure that would provide property tax exemptions for construction improvements.

Under the proposal, property owners who make improvements on their homes, commercial buildings or historic barns would receive a graduated increase in property assessments, rather than doing it in one lump sum, said Town Supervisor Ken Runion.

This would spread out the property tax increases over time.

Runion proposed two exemptions, for historic barns and residential buildings, and Town Board member Warren Redlich added a third motion for commercial buildings.

As long as we're doing that, let's do it, Redlich said.

The motion to bring the exemptions to a public hearing passed unanimously.

"It encourages people to improve their homes," Runion said.

The measure would graduate assessment increases for residential buildings over eight years, adding 12.5 percent of the cost of the improvement each year.

The second measure would allow improvements on historic barns to graduate improvements over the course of 10 years.

Redlich said commercial improvements would be limited to $80,000 to receive the exemptions, and commercial buildings would be limited to $50,000, with half of those improvements qualifying for the benefit.

The hope is that allowing homeowners to ease into the higher taxes will increase spending on improvements and boost the economy, officials said.

Runion said that the construction industry, one that has been hit particularly hard by the sluggish economy, would benefit from the proposal.

Runion also said that many people are looking to make improvements on their homes, rather than buy new ones, again as a result of the slumping economy. Those people, he said, would benefit from the measure if it passes.

Redlich said it is hard to know if people will make improvements because of the exemption, although the state Legislature has indicated it supports such exemptions.

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