Governor Cuomo Signs Property Tax Cap Legislation In Erie County

July 5, 2011 Updated Jul 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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July 5, 2011 Updated Jul 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM EDT

LANCASTER, NY ( WKBW / release ) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo traveled to Lancaser, NY in Erie County to sign New York's first property tax cap.

The tax cap, a hallmark of Governor Cuomo's campaign and a priority of his administration's first year, will finally deliver relief to millions of homeowners and business owners across the state who for too long have been burdened by out-of-control property taxes.

Governor Cuomo signed the property tax cap at the home of Ian and Jenny Martin in Lancaster. Like many taxpayers in Erie County, the Martins, parents of three children, have made sacrifices to afford the state's skyrocketing property taxes. Ian is the IT Director for Dave and Adam's Card World and Jenny teaches group fitness at Gold's Gym. They pay more than $6,000 annually in property taxes, almost twice the median property tax bill in New York state. This law will provide meaningful tax relief to the Martin family and other homeowners across New York.

"For too long, New York families like the Martins have been forced to deal with out-of-control property taxes," Governor Cuomo said. "Many families and businesses have already left Western New York and this tax cap will help stem the tide and bring much-needed relief to taxpayers across the state. New York will no longer be the tax capital of the nation and this tax cap will go a long way toward revitalizing the state's economy."

Taxpayers in Erie County, like the Martins, pay among the highest property taxes in the nation, with a median property tax bill of $3,990 per household. In comparison, the median U.S. property tax bill is $1,917, while in New York the median property tax bill is $3,755.

Under the new law, property tax increases will be capped at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Local communities and local voters could override the cap with a 60 percent vote on the budget for school boards or relevant legislative bodies.

Senator Patrick Gallivan said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York now has a property tax cap that will keep families in their homes, grow our communities, and foster economic development. We worked hard over the past months to bring this much-needed relief to the taxpayers of New York. This is a major step in revitalizing our state's economy and I look forward to continuing working with Governor Cuomo to rebuild New York state."

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak said, "This tax cap is a victory for all New York taxpayers. We are tired of seeing businesses and families move out of Erie County because of the crushing property tax burden. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and determination in making this property tax cap a reality. The taxpayers' voices have been heard and I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and my colleagues to help our great state get back on track to financial and economic prosperity."

This cap on property taxes includes safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services for New Yorkers. There will be limited exceptions to the cap, including:

· Judgments or court orders arising out of tort actions that exceed 5 percent of the localities' levy
· Certain growth in pension costs where the system's average rate increases by more than 2 percentage points from the previous year; the amount of contributions above the 2 percentage points will be excluded from the limit
· Growth in tax levies due to economic development

The new law institutes a property tax cap to protect homeowners and businesses from skyrocketing property tax hikes for the first time in New York history. For more than 15 years, both houses of the Legislature along with three governors have talked about a property tax cap for New York's overburdened homeowners with no results. New York's property taxes are among the highest taxes in the nation:

· The median U.S. property tax paid is $1,917; in New York, it's $3,755 – 96 percent higher than the national average
· As a percentage of personal income, New York has the highest local taxes in the nation – 79 percent above the national average
· From 1998 to 2008, property tax levies in New York grew by more than 73 percent – more than twice the rate of inflation during that span
· Companies pay five times more in property taxes than they do in corporate taxes
· New York – especially Upstate New York – continues to hemorrhage population and jobs at a greater rate than the national average.

Channel 7's Jennifer Stanonis will be covering the visit of the Governor, and have the latest on Eyewitness News.