Niagara Gazette — City lawmakers are taking steps they hope will eventually lead to some property tax relief for homeowners who were hit hard by heavy flooding last summer.
During a special meeting Friday afternoon, Niagara Falls City Council members unanimously agreed to set a public hearing as part of a proposed amendment to the city charter that would allow the city to participate in the Mohawk Valley and Niagara County Assessment Relief Act.
The act, which was included in the 2014-2015 New York State Budget, allows owners of homes damaged by flooding between June 20 and Aug. 9, 2013 to qualify for reductions in the assessed values of their properties.
The new law allows, but does not require, cities, towns, school districts and other municipalities to offer the assessment reductions. Municipalities opting to join the program would clear the way for owners of flood-damaged homes to appeal to their local assessors for reductions in assessed home values.
Several homes in Niagara Falls were hard hit by heavy rains and subsequent flooding following a severe mid-July storm last year. Similar flood damage occurred in several other counties, including Chemung, Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Schuyler, Steuben and Tompkins, which are all covered under the new law.
Council Chairman Charles Walker said setting a public hearing was the first step in the process of amending the charter to add a new section that would enact provisions of the assessment relief program. Walker said a special meeting had to be called in order for the council to take action in keeping with deadlines tied to the relief act.
If fully authorized, Walker said city residents who were impacted by flooding that occurred during the time period designated under the law would be able to apply for assessment reductions through the city assessor's office.
"It will be for the weather damage that happened last year," Walker said.
The public hearing on the proposed city charter amendment will be held at 4 p.m., Friday, inside council chambers at Niagara Falls City Hall, 745 Main St.Contact City Editor Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.