BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Buffalo lawmakers rolled out a measure of tax relief for older homeowners living in certain low income neighborhoods, especially seniors in the Fruit Belt.
The Common Council approved a tax exemption for seniors living in the Fruit Belt, and a few other targeted low income neighborhoods, Tuesday.
After years of neglect and deterioration, the Fruit Belt is going through a renaissance–property values are up, and the taxes would also spiral upward, without lawmakers’ intervention.
New people moving in who can afford higher rents and property taxes are threatening to displace longtime residents, but Council President Darius Pridgen said those are the true Buffalonians.
“When many people were leaving out of Buffalo, they stayed in some really tough neighborhoods. We are trying to make sure that they are able to keep their homes.”
To keep those older homeowners in place, the Common Council passed an exemption holding property taxes at their present level prior to the citywide revaluation.
The tax relief measure applies to homeowners at least 65 years old, who have owned their homes for at least 25 years. But the exemption only applies to certain low income census tracts in the city.
Some councilmembers, however, got blowback in their districts that were not affected by the targeted exemptions.
North District Councilman Joe Golombek said there are older homeowners among his constituents who could use also use the exemption.
“I have people that live in the North District–Black Rock and Riverside–that probably would fit into this category.”
So the Council also passed a resolution expanding the senior tax exemption to the whole city, and calling on the state legislature to approve it.
All of the exemptions have to go through Albany. State lawmakers approved the targeted exemption earlier this year, which now only needs Mayor Byron Brown’s signature.
The citywide senior exemption has to be approved in Albany, then it would come back to the Council for a vote.