April 1, 2022
OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Legislative Assembly will hold five public hearings before its next meeting. Hearings will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14 in the Legislature Chambers on the fourth floor of the Oswego County Legislative Office Building, 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego.
Two of the hearings relate to two local law proposals for partial property tax exemptions, one for low-income homeowners aged 65 and over and one for low-income households for qualified persons with disabilities. Each proposal will increase income caps and adjust the income sliding scale for partial exemptions. The sliding scale of income will start at $29,000 or less for a 50% exemption and will go up to a maximum of $37,400 for a 5% exemption.
“Increasing the income cap and updating the sliding income scale will allow households with an income of up to $37,400 to be eligible for a partial exemption,” explained the president of the Oswego County Legislature, James Weatherup, District 9. “This means that all current senior households receiving the exemption now, would receive a greater benefit with the passage of this law. In addition, 2,479 other households low-income seniors could potentially partially benefit.
Oswego County first provided a partial property tax exemption for low-income senior households in 1968. Over the years, it has been amended to increase income thresholds and add a scale of mobile income. The last time it was changed was in 1999 and now only 1,016 low-income senior households currently receive this benefit.
A similar local law is also proposed for low-income households for qualified persons with disabilities. Passing this bill would increase the minimum income and update the sliding income scale in line with exemptions for low-income senior households.
Oswego County first granted partial exemptions to low-income households for people with disabilities in 2001, using the same income scale for low-income senior households. Only 138 eligible households currently benefit from this exemption.
“Like the seniors’ exemptions, all current qualified disabled households would receive a greater benefit with the passage of this law, and more eligible households would become eligible on the sliding income scale,” Weatherup added.
The two proposed local laws include other options, such as the ability to exclude unreimbursed medical expenses as income for purposes of claiming the exemption.
“In the past, all sources of income were considered,” said Legislator David M. Holst, District 4, chairman of the County Legislative Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee. Oswego. “As a result, pensions and social security payments have often ‘crowded out’ many elderly households and made them ineligible.”
Additional options proposed for the Low-Income Elderly Exemption Act will also allow veterans’ disability payments under Title 38 of the U.S. Code to be excluded as income; and allowing applicants to apply for the exemption if they will turn 65 by December 31, rather than March 1 as was the previous deadline.
If these proposals are adopted, the changes will begin to take effect next year. Eligible households must apply by March 1, 2023 to see the change to their assessment rolls effective July 1. When county tax bills are released the following January, they will then reflect the exemption.
Households with eligible seniors and disabled people who already qualify for the exemption still need to reapply each year, as they usually do, but the new exemption values will automatically apply upon renewal in 2023.
“The real estate market has been incredibly hot over the past few years,” said Corey Metz, director of Oswego County Real Estate Tax Services. “Because appraisals are based on the market values of real estate, many qualified homeowners see their home’s value and appraisals increase based on market conditions beyond their control. All real estate is taxable unless exempt, so making this exemption available to more seniors can help offset their rising assessment values.
Oswego County Mass Transportation
There will also be a public hearing on Thursday, April 14 regarding a local transit bill in Oswego County.
The largely rural nature of Oswego County can be a barrier for people who want to get to work, school or the grocery store without reliable transportation. Passing this law will allow the county to contract with transit providers to provide residents with transit facilities and services and establish a transit system.
New York State Community Development Block Grant Program
Another public hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 14 is associated with the CDBG CV-Farmworker Safety Housing Grant Program and the county’s CDBG Income Housing Action Plan.
State and Federal Officials Join Oswego County in Recognizing the Need for Improved Seasonal Workforce Housing and Have Identified CDBG Grant Funding Available Through the Act 2020 CARES. With interest from several local farm owners, Oswego County will apply for the grant through the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal.
Oswego County Agricultural District
Another public hearing scheduled for April 14 concerns the Oswego County Agricultural District. Each year, the Legislative Assembly opens a “window of opportunity” for qualified landowners to apply to be included in this certified district. Applications are accepted from January 1 to 31 and reviewed by the Oswego County Farmland Protection Board, which makes recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.
The public is invited to attend these hearings scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14 in the Legislative Chambers on the fourth floor of the Legislative Office Building, 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego. For more information, visit www.oswegocounty.com/clerkofthelegislature.