Pictured above: Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Scheiderman with other town leaders announcing the property tax relief plan Wednesday

Suffolk County is submitting a request to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign an executive order to allow residents economically impacted by the pandemic to delay property tax payments due June 1 to July 15.

The project, in the works for nearly two months, relied on sorting out the intricate financial relationships between towns, schools, fire districts, library districts and the county, and was dependent on financing through the Municipal Liquidity Facility, set up to help local governments stay solvent through the economic shutdown due to the Covid-19 crisis

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Wednesday that the county’s Municipal Finance Working Group, composed of town supervisors and village mayors throughout the county, has unanimously approved a plan to allow property owners to attest that they have suffered a financial hardship due to the pandemic in order to waive fees and penalties to give them an additional 45 days to pay their property taxes.

Mr. Bellone said homeowners who have lost more than 25 percent of their income, and businesses with less than $1 million annually in revenue that have lost more than 50 percent of their income will be eligible. The property owners would need to attest to this loss but would not need to provide proof.

Mr. Bellone said the 45 day extension will help homeowners who are still waiting for their unemployment claims or Small Business Administration loan funds to come through.

“For many who really need relief, the additional 45 days goes a long way to helping those individuals,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “I guess nobody loves paying their property taxes, but that is how we actually run government — the health department, police services, services we need more than ever, fire departments and schools. Without property taxes, we cease to exist.:

The county was initially ineligible to receive funding through the Municipal Liquidity Facility because it does not have more than two million residents, but Mr. Bellone worked with Congressman Lee Zeldin to intervene on Suffolk’s behalf with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, arguing that Suffolk, with 1.5 million people adjacent to the epicenter of U.S. virus cases, is a prime example of a county the Municipal Liquidity Facility was set up to help.

“Our hope is that, in reaching out to the governor’s office, we will get a quick turnaround by the beginning of the coming week,” said Mr. Bellone.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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