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Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Publication Date: Summer 1996

CITY TAX ABATEMENTS FOR SENIORS IN COOPERATIVES

Local Laws 1 and 2 of 1996 provide qualifying senior citizens with the tax abatement opportunities to help keep their homes affordable. Senior Citizen Rent Increase Abatements (SCRIE) have long been available low-income seniors who rent their apartments. Once appropriate forms are filed, seniors over the age of 62 with family incomes below the threshold no longer pay the increases in their rent. The city absorbs this cost and gives a real estate tax rebate to the owner of the unit. Qualifying seniors who own houses or condominium units are similarly treated through a direct real estate tax abatement. Heretofore, only seniors who owned cooperatives received no relief.

Now this inequity has been corrected. Thanks to the new Senior Citizens Homeowners Exemption (SCHE), seniors over the age of 65 who live in their own cooperative apartments and have a family income of less than $25,900 are now eligible for a property tax abatement. Buildings had to file detailed forms for each qualifying senior by April 1st to have the rebate apply in fiscal 1997. CNYC helped the Department of Finance in its outreach blitz as it tried to get the word out to every qualifying senior. At present, no more registrations can be taken for fiscal 1997, but, beginning in July, qualifying seniors can register for future benefits. For details and appropriate forms, call your borough's office of Real Property Tax Assessment.

WATER RATES INCREASE BY 6.5%

The New York City Water Board has set water and sewer rates for fiscal 1997. There was an increase of 6.5% in water rates, with sewer charges continuing to be set at 159% of the water rate. This will form the basis for bills sent in July. Many aspects of our water and sewer charges are of real concern to CNYC. Beginning in the early 1980s, a decade of rate escalation changed water from a negligible budget item into a significant building expense. The Universal Water Metering Program, instituted by the Department of Environmental Protection to help conserve water through meter installation and charges based on water use, has proven instead that it is impractical and inequitable to charge for water in multiple dwellings solely on the basis of use.

The city is committed to developing a better system -- probably one that combines basic infrastructure charges with a conservation incentive based on meter readouts of water use. In the absence of such a system, the city presently permits buildings to continue at the frontage rates for at least a year after meter installation, so that the building can use this grace period to detect and cure leaks and to educate residents about water conservation.

 
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