JAMESTOWN – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed off on a new housing program that would address abandoned and vacant homes and properties in Jamestown.
Earlier this summer the state legislature approved a resolution allowing the city to launch the Local Property Tax Abatement Incentive, with Gov. Cuomo signing the legislation at the end of July.
When the program was first announced in January, city officials said it would allow investors who rehab vacant and condemned properties in Jamestown for owner-occupied residential use to qualify for a property tax abatement.
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi recently told WRFA that while the city doesn’t expect the program to have a large impact on addressing housing concerns in the city, it does help provide another option in addressing dilapidated, abandoned, and/or condemned homes.
“This is another tool in the tool chest for us to work with. It’s not something that is going to be dealing with dozens of properties on an annual basis,” Teresi explained. “But every property that we can get into the hands of a responsible buyer who has the ability, and sometimes with our assistance, to bring it into code compliance and to get it reoccupied with a good owner-occupant is one less property that neighbors have to worry about, that the fire department has to worry about, and that the city budget or a land bank grant has to worry about in ultimately demolishing.”
Under the initial program proposal, officials said the abatement period would last eleven years with an abatement schedule that begins with the property owner paying no property taxes in years one through three, 20 percent property tax in years four and five, and then seeing that amount increase by 20 percent for every following two years, until the full property tax value is paid by year 12.
City officials said that since the properties that would qualify typically yield little to no tax revenue to begin with, the abatement wouldn’t have a negative impact on tax revenue. But, they said it would also help save the city money by avoiding demolition costs and would also help to stabilize neighborhoods by helping to reduce the number of condemned or blighted homes.
The mayor said anyone who wants to participate in the program will likely have to have a housing inspector come to their property and verify that it is not code compliant. Once the inspection takes place, the property owner can then move forward with renovating the home. Once the property is back in compliance, it can then qualify for the tax abatement, so long as it is owner-occupied. He said that the property would still qualify for the abatement even if it is sold, so long as it remains owner-occupied under the new owner.
Tersi said specific details for the program will be rolled out later this year.