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County eyes ways to help flooded properties

ELIZABETHTOWN-For the third time, Essex County will look to change the assessed value for properties that were affected by the recent rains and flooding.

Charli Lewis, Essex County Real Property Tax Service Director, addressed the members of the Board of Supervisors during the May 31 Ways and Means Committee meeting about what would be required in order to lower assessments for those affected by the storms.

"As you look at these Relief Acts that happened in 2005 and 2007, the county could opt into the program if at least one municipal corporation met the requirements," Lewis said. "They define that as catastrophically damaged property. There had to be ten (properties) and they had to be damaged over 50 percent of their assessed value."

Lewis also said that at present, the county would need the help of state legislation in order to allow county assessors to follow through.

"Taxable status date is March 1," Lewis said. "By law, the assessors are required to assess property as of their condition as of March 1. If there is a flood, a fault line, a fire, after March 1, it is unlawful to change the assessment until the following March 1."

Several supervisors spoke up in favor of a resolution asking state senator Betty Little and state Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward to introduce legislation that would allow the county to offer assessment reductions.

"We do have two homes that are greatly affected by the slide in Keene Valley and we have two others that are creeping closer to them," Keene Supervisor William Ferebee said. "Charli did come over and addressed our Assessor and our Board of Assessment Review to make her statement clear to those guys as constituents come forward looking for assistance in their assessments."

"I spoke to Sen. Little on this last week to see if there was any kind of possibility that legislation could be introduced to authorize the county's to enact this," Moriah supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said. "I mean we have I think two possibly three homes in the town of Moriah that I am certain this has reduced their assessed value by more than 50 percent."

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