2006-03-15 / Seniors

$600 Property Tax Rebate Proposed For Low/Middle Income Seniors

Concerned that typical senior citizen homeowners living on fixed incomes are in danger of losing their homes when faced with the sharply increased costs of running a house, city Controller William C. Thompson Jr. has proposed that the city giver lowto middle-income New York homeowners a new annual $600 property tax rebate.

Thompson explained that the program, called City Aid for Senior Homeowners, or CASH, would be available to owners of one-, twoand three-family houses, condos and co-ops who sign up for the New York State Enhanced STAR (School Tax Relief) partial property tax exemption.

To be eligible for Enhanced STAR, a homeowner must be 65 or older and the primary resident of the property, and must have total annual income of $66,050 or less.

The city would provide the CASH benefit, the STAR benefit, and also the annual $400 property tax rebate homeowners have been getting, Thompson said.

He added that the two rebates could total as much as $1,000 but could not exceed the homeowner's real estate tax bill.

The controller said the CASH proposal would cost the city no more than $50 million annually, in addition to the $250 million a year the city already lays out for the $400 rebate program.

"It's clear seniors need this helping hand," Thompson said. The average annual Social Security benefit in New York City is only $12,791, and double-digit increases in Medicare Part B premiums each year eat up much of the Social Security benefit increase.

Thompson also pointed out that heating expenses for the average home have gone up $888; the average property tax bill on a singlefamily home has increased by $1,216 and electric bills have increased by $233 a year.

"As I travel around the city, senior homeowners increasingly tell me they are worried about losing their homes to unaffordable cost hikes," Thompson said, explaining why he proposed the CASH program.

Seniors must also be concerned that this is the final year of the $400 annual city property tax rebate, the controller pointed out, unless it is renewed by legislators.

"It is critical that the City Council and state legislature both vote to renew the $400 rebate and to authorize an additional CASH rebate," Thompson declared. "Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki must sign such a law. Let's help keep New York City seniors in the houses they own for as long as they want."

MEDICARE PART D FORUM: Still a hot and troublesome topic, the Medicare Part D drug prescription subsidy program is the subject of a forum that will be held tomorrow, sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) at 1 p.m. at the HANAC/JVL Senior Center. Gianaris said the community meeting will address questions and concerns about the new program, which got off to a shaky start. Gianaris said Medicare and Social Security experts will be present to answer questions about the new program.

GOODIES FOR MIDVILLE CENTER: The Middle Village Adult Center is getting a new food delivery truck, thanks to some funding help from Borough President Helen Marshall. The van, called a "hot shot", plays a major role in the center's Meals-On-Wheels service, with an oven to keep the food hot during delivery and a refrigerator to store cold food and drinks.

In the March "Midville Monthly" bulletin, center officials thanked Marshall for allocating more than $45,000 to the center for the new vehicle. The center, at 69-10 75th St., Middle Village, provides daily meals to more than 80 of the people it calls "homebound friends." The center's director is Rabbi Richard Levy.

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