B y Jaime Thomas
Most area residents could come up with a few good ways to spend $500 dollars.
That lump could pay for a fuel-fill up, for example, or buy boxes of presents to go under the tree. It could mean new snow tires, a vacation or a few months of groceries.
But a significant chunk of local homeowners are in danger of losing that sum by paying unnecessary taxes next September.
In Granville alone, more than 200 eligible households had not re-registered for their STAR exemption as of last week and in Hampton 43 people had not done so. In Hartford and Hebron the number was close to 80. And county-wide more than 2,200 (as of Dec. 9) people who have previously received the Basic STAR exemption have not re-registered for the program
In an effort to trim that number locally, Town Supervisor Matt Hicks and Assessor Daniel Boone are reaching out to their constituents to get everyone registered.
“You’re missing the boat here folks’; you have till the end of the year,” Hicks said, referring to a state-set deadline for registering for the exemption.
The STAR program was started in 1999 to help any homeowner in New York state younger than 65 with an income less than $500,000 pay less in school taxes. However, the prevalence of fraud led to a mandatory re-registration.
Boone explained that residents were claiming exemptions on multiple dwellings within New York and in other states. Since September, the state has been inundating homeowners with information about re-registering, but some people have yet to do so.
“If you neglect to register for STAR, you’re looking at $500 extra on your bill. This registration process, which takes less than five minutes, is a direct $500 savings on your school tax bill,” Hicks said.
The exemption eliminates the first $30,000 in assessment off of any home, regardless of its value, on a home-owner’s school taxes. Whether community members sign up or not, the school district receives the money from either local residents or the state.
So, if the 200 or so unregistered residents don’t sign up for STAR, the state will save an extra $100,000 that could otherwise go to Granville’s local economy, and local constituents will make up the difference.
“That’s $100,000 of revenue out of Granville,” Hicks said.
“It isn’t going to impact your state tax bill, but it is going to impact your local one,” Boone said.
Additionally, the Dec. 31 deadline is final—unlike property assessments.
“They cannot appeal Grievance Day on this. There’s nothing they can do, nothing we can do,” Boone said, adding that once residents reregister they’ll probably be set for 10 years.
In their office, Boone and Sole Assessor Dorothy Roberts have helped “dozens and dozens” of residents to sign up for their exemption. He said one of the positive aspects to the process was those over 65 discovering they were eligible for Enhanced STAR, which is twice the savings.
Those who can’t find their STAR paperwork and haven’t yet signed up can do so online at www.tax.ny.gov, by calling 518-457-2036 or by calling Hicks or Boone at the town offices at 518-642-1500. Boone and Roberts will be at the town offices on Monday, Dec. 30 to help anyone with questions about the exemption process.
“I did it for my household—it was not five minutes, and it was very simple and straightforward,” Hicks said.