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County mortgage tax bill renewed after state blunder

February 1, 2019 03:01 pm

Lawmakers are hoping Greene County will not have to foot the bill for three months of lost mortgage tax revenue after a costly state oversight.

The county is budgeting for a $250,000 loss in revenue after its mortgage tax bill expired Dec. 1 and failed to pass the state Assembly.

State legislators in the Senate and Assembly voted Tuesday to renew the bill, which will allow Greene County to collect mortgage tax until 2020. The legislation is headed for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

Greene was one of four countines, including Essex, Cattarauggus and Warren counties, waiting on state lawmakers to renew their mortgage tax legislation after they expired in December.

The bills were lumped in with an unrelated New York City speed camera authorization bill, which was left unresolved. When the city’s bill fell by the wayside, so did the mortgage tax bills, Senator George Amedore, R-46, said Jan. 18.

“It’s very unfortunate that Albany Democratic leaders played politics with this,” Amedore said Thursday. “It shows the ugliness of politics.”

Amedore is calling on Cuomo to amend the budget to compensate for the counties’ lost revenue.

“A line item can be added in the budget to allow the difference of the loss of revenue,” Amedore said. “Greene County lost $60,000 in December and up to $75,000 in January. The governor can easily make those adjustments; I don’t think the county and the residents should have to pay the price.”

Greene County typically profits $1 million annually from mortgage tax, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Jan. 16.

“Fifty cents for every $1,000 of a mortgage gets turned over to the county, but it is not authorized if the bill is not renewed,” he said.

“I applaud George Amedore and Chris Tague’s efforts,” Groden added Thursday. “Now, it’s just a question of finding the money. I hope they can. I’m happy it didn’t get sidelined again and we’re on track to start in April.”

Groden estimated the bill would not be renewed until two months into the new year.

Because Greene County is losing its mortgage tax revenue for a total of three months, which is a quarter of a year, Groden projected the county would lose $250,000 in the budget.

“I reduced the revenue from the mortgage tax to $750,000,” Groden said. “We’re still weeks away from final approval. Then, I have to give 30 days advanced notice to the real estate community. We probably won’t re-enact it until April 1.”

Greene County needs to be prepared for unscheduled changes in the budget during this year in case the state does not reimburse the missing tax revenue, Groden said.

Groden can raise the 2020 budget to compensate for the loss of revenue in the event the funding does not get approved, he said.

Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, also voiced his support Jan. 18 to resolve the issue.

“Politicking is why that bill was held at the end of last session — pure and simple,” Tague said. “This is just another example of politics being put before the people in Albany. The bill got held because of something totally unrelated to the content within it... I am greatly disappointed that wheeling and dealing prevented the renewal from coming through, but we’re working on a solution.”

Groden agrees the delay had nothing to do with the county.

“It was not our error,” he said. “We have nothing to do with New York City politics and yet we’re the one suffering for it.”