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Tax Relief Available for Homes Damaged by Irene

Town of Smithtown residents can apply to have their taxes reduced due to property damage through March 8.

Smithtown residents whose homes or property were severely damaged by Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee can apply to have their taxes reduced for 2011.

Smithtown Town officials voted unanimously to adopt New York State's Tropical Storm Lee Assessment Relief Act at their Jan. 18 meeting. Their action will allow residents to reach out to the town assessor to re-evaluate homes or property "catastrophically impacted" by the storms to reduce their taxes for the 2011-12 year, due April 15.

In order to qualify for lower taxes, homeowners must show that their property lost 50 percent or more of its overall value due to the storms. Any homes that were severely damaged due to flooding can be considered under the relief act.

"It was mostly passed for people in upstate New York who lost their whole house as a result of the flooding," said Smithtown tax assessor Peter Johnson. " The town here passed it on the chance there might be property in Smithtown somewhere affected that way passed the authorizations."

Those property owners who can show at they have lost at least 50 percent of their property's value due to Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee will pay 55 percent less in taxes. The reductions then increase on a sliding scale, for example homeowners who lost 80 percent of the property's value would receive an 85 percent reduction.

Residents interested in applying for a tax reduction have to fill out an application, available on Town of Smithtown's website or Town Hall. The application along with any supporting documents must be submitted to town assessor's office by March 8.

Johnson said he didn't know off the top of his head if any Smithtown homes that would be eligible.

"I’m not aware of any that had been affected the way they were upstate. We had a lot of trees down and we had homes that were damaged but least 50 percent of the value of the house affected," he said.

It cost the town roughly in addition to surplus funds, according to Glenn Jorgensen, Smithtown's supervisor of highways. Crews were hoping to finish pulling .

Smithtown residents who needed money to pay for home repairs and replacement of essential household items damaged by Hurricane Irene had a from Sept. 10, 2011 to Oct. 1, 2011 at the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge.

Small business owners also had the opportunity to apply for loans of up to $2 million for repairs and loss of business.

Johnson said the tax assessors office regularly re-evaluates homes and property values that may have changed in value from year to year, including those homes who lost damage due to fire or other causes. He encouraged homeowners who believe their property value has changed to contact his office.

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