Tompkins County
New York


Resolution in Support of Providing Owner-Occupied Housing, Urging New York State to Amend the Real Property Tax Law to Allow Tompkins County the Option to Provide a Partial Exemption to Multi-Unit Residential Properties Converted to Owner-Occupied Residences


Category:Real Property


  1. Printout
  2. 2017 rptl 421tc memo (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)

Resolution/Document Body

WHEREAS, there is a demonstrable and critical shortage of owner-occupied housing within Tompkins County, and


WHEREAS, this Legislature has attempted to address that shortage through a number of measures, including participation with the City of Ithaca and Cornell University in the development of the Community Housing Fund, and


WHEREAS, the New York State Legislature has authorized many cities to offer an exemption for multi-family housing that was converted to single-family houses under Real Property Tax Law Section 421-‘X’, and


WHEREAS, planned development within Tompkins County will add a significant number of bedrooms over the next year that will result in a higher vacancy rate within the County, and


WHEREAS, the higher vacancy rate would allow for older subdivided and poorly maintained housing to return to an owner-occupied single-family residence with one or two units, and


WHEREAS, it is in the interest of Tompkins County to allow for this transition to happen to encourage owner-occupied homes, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Government Operations Committee, That the Tompkins County Legislature urges the New York State Legislature to amend the Real Property Tax Law by creating a new section of law that would allow Tompkins County, by local law, to grant a partial exemption equal to any increase in assessment due to the conversion of a multi-unit rental property to an owner-occupied one- or two-unit residence by foregoing any increase in assessment in year one and thereafter increasing the assessment rate by 12.5% per year,


RESOLVED, further, That the Clerk of the Legislature send copies of the resolution to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senators James Seward, Pamela Helming, and Tom O’Mara, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, and NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties).



Meeting History

May 3, 2017 3:30 PM  Government Operations Committee Regular Meeting

Ms. Robertson spoke of the last Government Operations Committee meeting and the list of exemptions Mr. Franklin reviewed and said this particular exemption she believes would be beneficial. She said Todd Fox, a developer, was present and could speak to the resolution if the Committee wished. She believes if this exemption is granted, it could create family housing.

Mr. John believes the resolution seems to do what the County wants with investing in housing stock. The benefit would only improve the increase in value so that existing taxpayers are not losing anything other than growth in the property.

At this time, Ms. Kiefer offered several changes that were accepted as friendly.

Mr. Fox believes this is a good program and for him personally would benefit from this exemption. He spoke of some of the projects he has done with turning houses back to being owner-occupied and selling them. He thinks this would provide incentives for developers to take advantage of and converting older houses for student housing to owner-occupied residences.

MOVER:Rich John, Member
SECONDER:Will Burbank, Member
AYES:Carol Chock, Dooley Kiefer, Rich John, Will Burbank
EXCUSED:Daniel Klein
May 16, 2017 5:30 PM Media Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting

Mr. Dennis said he would like to see what kind of affect this would have on the City; there are many houses on East Hill that have been multiple dwellings and he doesn’t have a good feeling about this outside the City.

Mr. John said this resolution would probably affect his district more than any other as there are a lot of houses that are subject to this conversion. A constituent spoke earlier this evening asking the Legislature not to pass this. This resolution would urge New York State to act to give us the option of passing the exemption. If the State acted he thinks there would need to be careful thought about whether this would be a good idea. It may or may not help but he would like Tompkins County to be allowed to make the decision.

Ms. Chock said she supports the objective to encourage owner occupancy of housing. Ms. Chock offered the following proposed amendment that was accepted as friendly: change "affordable" to "owner-occupied" in the title and first Whereas.

Ms. Kelles understands there is a need for diversity of housing, but believes this needs further consideration. She said she will support asking the State to do this so the County can debate it.

Ms. Robertson agrees diversity in housing is important, but said she would like to bring the City along if this is passed. She thinks this is one tool she would like to try.

Mr. Sigler does not believe this will cut down the number of rental units in the City. Ms. Robertson said students prefer the new buildings that are being built and that Cornell is building more units on campus; the issue is that we have a lot of families who are renting when they prefer to buy and prefer to live closer to work.

Mr. Lane said he cannot support this resolution because he thinks it will reduce the number of units and the ones who will be hurt are the workers who need reasonably priced places to live. He questioned if this would lower the assessment and said when this was looked at a lot of them went up. He agreed with the comment made earlier this evening that the County should trying to incentivize it.

Mr. Franklin corrected a statement made and said there are various cities across the State that can offer this exemption, but the City of Ithaca is not able to.

Ms. Kelles believes this could be an opportunity to potentially return homes to home ownership.

Mr. Sigler said it seems this action would encourage densification.

Ms. Kiefer suggested the following to change "...equal to the increase..." to "...equal to any increase..." in first Resolved; this was accepted as friendly.

Mr. John reiterated that this resolution only asks the State to allow this exemption for Tompkins County. Mr. Lane believes that if the Legislature asks for the legislation it should be prepared to authorize the resolution.

Mr. Klein agreed with Mr. Lane and said he would be uncomfortable asking State Legislators to enact special legislation without intending to adopt it.

Ms. Robertson asked Mr. Marx, Planning and Sustainability Commissioner, for his opinion. Mr. Marx said it is very hard to predict what the impact would be but it would provide an option to people.

Ms. Chock said she would like to know the County Attorney’s opinion on when a Point of Order takes precedence, what would be the next steps if the State passes this, and is there a legal requirement that if someone votes for this here that they would have to vote the same way after hearing from the public.

Mr. Wood said at the time the Point of Order was requested the Chair of the Legislature was still calling on people to speak. He reminded the Legislature that challenging the Chair can be made. In response to the second question, he said there is no requirement that any law be adopted when it comes back from the State. In the past the Legislature has asked State legislators to do whatever is necessary and when passed by the State Legislature and the Governor it would come back to the County Legislature. He believes it would be somewhat unusual to ask them to pass something and then not adopt it locally but permissible.

It was MOVED by Mr. Dennis, seconded by Ms. Kelles, and unanimously adopted by voice vote by members present, to Call the Question. THE QUESTION WAS CALLED.

The following is the vote result for the resolution.

MOVER:Daniel Klein, Vice Chair
SECONDER:Martha Robertson, Member
AYES:Carol Chock, Rich John, Anna Kelles, Dooley Kiefer, Daniel Klein, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Martha Robertson
NAYS:James Dennis, Michael Lane, David McKenna, Glenn Morey, Michael Sigler, Peter Stein
EXCUSED:Will Burbank