Tax breaks proposed to ease flood map burden for low-income Syracuse homeowners

Oct 25, 2016

The Syracuse Common Council is urging New York state to allow a property tax exemption for low-income homeowners in the newly redrawn federal flood maps. Starting in November, affected homeowners must have flood insurance, which can cost up to $2,500 a year.

The proposed tax exemption would be on a sliding scale. Those making a little more than $37,000 a year could get a five percent break, while those making less than $29,000 a year could qualify for a 50 percent break. All the common councilors support the resolution, but Councilor Joe Carni does not think it goes far enough.

“This is also a burden on the middle class," Carni said. "This is something that could really desolate entire neighborhoods.”

The council needs permission from the state in order to give the local property tax exemption. The legislature does not go back into session until January.

Some of the 800 properties added to the maps are located in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Councilor Joe Nicoletti said the tax break is one way to help correct the faults created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, when they made the new flood maps.

"FEMA comes into town and they impose these standards on us without even a consideration of the economic hardship it provides to people,” Nicoletti said.

Councilor Steven Thompson said the resolution was in response to community activists who pressured the Council to be proactive in helping residents save their homes.

“We want to keep them on the tax rolls and we want to make sure that they keep their value because we don’t want people to move out and then nobody moves back into them,” Thompson said.