First-time homebuyers in Schoharie County are being offered an exemption on county property taxes under a new local law.
Qualifying participants who build a new house will be exempt from half of the county tax bill the first year under the program approved by the county Board of Supervisors on Friday.
The new incentive has been a quest of Schoharie town Supervisor Gene Milone for a couple of years. “It’s going to help our people. It’s going to help draw people to our county as well, I hope,” he said Wednesday.
The county property tax exemption will drop by 10 percentage points each ensuing year, so the qualifying homeowners would pay 60 percent of the tax bill in year two, 70 percent in year three, and so on until year six, when full county property taxes would be owed.
An exemption is also being extended to residents willing to invest $3,000 or more in renovations or remodeling of newly purchased houses, provided the work starts within three months of the purchase.
This eight-year exemption eliminates 100 percent of county property taxes for the value of the improvement during the first year. Taxes begin to increase by 12.5 percent each year until full taxes are paid in year nine, according to a breakdown provided by the Schoharie County Real Property Tax Service. The exemption has a limit of $80,000 of increased market value.
The program comes with limits on household income in order for people to qualify. One- and two-person households can quality so long as they earn $77,000 or less. The limit is $88,500 for a three-person household.
Census statistics issued last year showed Schoharie County leading the New York counties in population loss between 2010 and 2012, with a 2 percent drop from 32,749 to 32,099.
The new exemption adds to those already approved for town and village of Schoharie property taxes, benefits aimed at stimulating growth in an area that lost population following tropical storms Irene and Lee.
The town of Schoharie last fall approved tax breaks for those building a new house and for existing homeowners who build an addition to accommodate their parents.
Property improvements of $3,000 or more, under the town of Schoharie’s abatement, would be untaxed the first year, then 12.5 percent of the renovations’ value would be added annually to the house’s assessment until full taxes are due in year nine.
Additions to existing houses for parents or grandparents won’t be taxed at all under the town of Schoharie program, provided the homeowner completes a free annual application.
And commercial properties adding residential space will avoid taxes on the increased value for the first eight years, then gradually pay more until year 13, when full taxes would be collected.
“We went the extra couple of miles,” Milone said of the town program.
Though less extensive than the town’s abatement, the county’s new homebuyer incentive adds another reason for people to consider Schoharie County for a residence.
It was unclear Wednesday when county officials will lay out the program’s full details. Once operating, prospective residents will be applying for the exemption through the town assessor’s offices.