The North Bellmore School District hosted a press conference by New York State Sen. John Brooks on June 8 as he announced the introduction of legislation that would provide property tax relief for homeowners.
The legislation would increase financial support from the state in districts in which at least half of the annual tax levy is paid for by residential property owners. After the 50 percent cap on the residential tax burden, the state would pick up the difference. In North Bellmore, where there is only a small commercial tax base, approximately 70 percent of the levy is paid for by homeowners.
Sen. Brooks outlined his proposed legislation at a press conference in front of Newbridge Road Elementary School, where he was joined by Westchester State Sen. Shelley Mayer and North Bellmore Superintendent Marie Testa. The bill would maintain the same level of funding for schools while providing potentially thousands of dollars of property tax relief to individual homeowners.
The Property Tax Relief Plan is in response to the federal tax changes, which limits a homeowner’s ability to deduct state and local taxes to $10,000 per year. Most property tax bills on Long Island exceed that.
Ms. Testa said that she has been advocating for reform for many years for districts which have a large residential property tax burden, and was grateful to Sen. Brooks for introducing legislation to address it.
“I felt I needed to take a stand and advocate for the North Bellmore community,” she said. “I am completely committed to try to change the system and relieve the burden on our local taxpayers.”
Ms. Testa was joined by North Bellmore Board of Education members, administrators, teachers, support staff and homeowners. Among them was district resident John Plock, who stated, “I moved to the community so I could raise my family here. Long Island pays some of the highest property taxes in the country, and now, the federal tax plan is going to destroy our suburban way of life. This historic tax relief would be transformative for me, my family and neighbors.
Added 44-year resident Chris Kropp, “I have lived in North Bellmore for years, raised my children here, sent them to our school and still live here,” Ms. Kropp said. “But I just don’t know that I can afford Long Island property taxes anymore and the federal tax plan will raise the already sky-high property taxes.”
Ms. Testa added that Long Island has approximately 17 percent of the state’s public school students but receives only about 12 percent of overall state aid.
“Property tax bills reflect the assessed values of our residents’ homes, not their financial ability to pay the exorbitant taxes,” she said. “Long Island communities cannot continue to bear this inequitable financial burden and our children should not be unfairly penalized due to the geographic location of their homes.”
Sen. Brooks’ tax plan, if passed, would go into effect the year following its adoption. It would remain in effect for three years while alternative ideas are sought for school funding.