ALBANY - State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, is responding to some of the backlash she received following a paperwork error.
On Thursday, The Albany Times Union ran an article stating Young had improperly claimed a School Tax Assessment Relief exemption since 2001 on a condo she owns in North Greenbush, as well as her home in Cattaraugus County. The Post-Journal then ran an article Friday, which indicated that a paperwork mixup was to blame.
Friday morning, Young was hoping to put the whole situation behind her.
"I immediately filed all of the proper legal documents to correct the situation when I learned what happened," Young said in a statement. "Although we did not apply for the exemption, I felt strongly that the money should be reimbursed right away. The exemption came to about $200 per year, and the full amount has been paid with interest."
The town of North Greenbush assessor originally discovered how the error occurred.
"I have researched the STAR exemption on the property in the Town of North Greenbush and found that the exemption was on the property prior to your purchasing it," John Harkin, town of North Greenbush assessor said in an email Thursday. Harkin went on to say that the assessor had failed to remove the exemption from the property when no paperwork was filed by Young or her husband.
"While a careful reading of the School Tax bill would have revealed this fact it appears there was no affirmative action taken by either you or your husband to claim this STAR exemption," Harkin said. "It certainly appears to me that this was an honest error by both parties. Sorry for any troubles this has certainly caused you in the past few days."
Young issued the following statement Friday:
"Even though it has been an intensely busy time in Albany this week because the state budget process is in full swing, I have worked hard to figure out how this mistake happened. I knew without a doubt that we had not claimed a Basic Star property tax exemption on that property, and wanted to get to the bottom of it.
"I truly appreciate that the assessor John Harkin came forward and verified that my husband and I never filed an application for the exemption and the town erroneously applied it to our property. Mr. Harkin's apology was sincere and he acknowledges that the town made a mistake.
"It is a relief that the town was able to trace what happened, and this error has been cleared up.
"There have been many people who have given me warm words of support and encouragement, and I truly appreciate all of their sentiments.
"It always is hard when you are under an unfair attack, especially for something you did not do, but I try to not let it be too much of a distraction. The state budget is due to be completed in less than two weeks, and there is a lot of work to get done."
A phone call to Harkin to confirm whether Young was now paid in full was not returned.