MAYVILLE - First-time homebuyers may have a new incentive to look at Chautauqua County.
The legislature's Administrative Services Committee discussed a local law introduction Monday that would provide county tax exemptions for buyers of newly constructed or rehabbed properties.
Waiving taxes levied on behalf of the county could attract first-time buyers and would take advantage of a state-sponsored exemption program.
Not to mention, it may help new families experience the joys of owning their first home.
"At the end of the day there is no question that owning a home versus renting is better," said George Borrello, R-Irving, who is sponsoring the local law introduction.
Borrello said New York state allows the five-year tax exemption. However, a local law must be established after a public hearing is held.
According to the state's real property tax law, a property owner can receive a 50 percent tax exemption based on valuation, with a 10 percent exemption decrease each year. The tax abatement can be granted on behalf of any county, city, town, village or school district with approval from the respected governing body.
"This is a really good opportunity to get first-time homebuyers to invest in existing properties to fix them up and live in them," Borrello said.
For a rehabbed property to be eligible for the tax exemptions, at least $3,000 must be invested.
Two representatives from Habitat for Humanity were present Monday, both of whom noted the number of properties rehabbed by the volunteer organization.
"The one thing that we know is that owning a home for these families creates so much greater stability for the family life," said Marilyn Kurzawa of Chautauqua Area Habitat for Humanity. "Many of them have gone from rental property to rental property."
"The main goal of Habitat is to give ownership to poor working class families and give them a chance," added David Kurzawa.
Borrello said he hoped other taxing entities follow suit and provide the exemption for first-time buyers. He added that local volunteer rehabilitation groups will have more options to provide middle-class families as a result of the tax breaks.
"This is going to benefit Habitat for Humanity the most because they are going to have the ability now to counsel a family and include this as part of their financial planning," Borrello said.
The introduction was not met was unanimous approval. Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, voted against the law, pointing out that he has a hard time approving any tax breaks.
"I struggle with exemptions," Scudder said. "That's where I am right now. The beauty at being in committee is that I can vote no here and possibly vote yes (in the legislature)."
A public hearing for the local law introduction passed committee. The hearing will take place during September's voting session, at which time the legislature can vote to approve the exemption.