State Senator David Carlucci is a co-sponsor of bi-partisan legislation to restore the STAR rebate program for the 2013-2014 school year. At a recent event to bring attention to the push for restoration, Carlucci noted Rockland County’s property taxes are the third highest in the nation. He described Rockland’s taxes as having reached “crisis levels.”
Carlucci said the Star Rebate checks, which were discontinued in 2009, would provide tax relief for middle class families, senior citizens and veterans. He pointed out the majority of county residents earn less than $250,000 annually, which is the income level cutoff.
“The rebate check will help us in a lot of ways – the copays on the medial, the copay on the prescriptions,” said Rosalind Jacobson of New City. “And it’ll allow us to stay in a home where we’re comfortable.”
Families earning less than $120,000 would receive 60 percent of the STAR exemption. Those making a combined family income between $120,001 and 175,000 would receive 45 percent of the STAR exemption and those earning between $175,01 and $250,000 would receive 30 percent of the STAR exemption. Senior citizens, 65 and older, with a combined income of $79,000 would be eligible for the Enhanced STAR rebate. Another option would allow residents to write off the amount of their STAR rebate against property taxes owed.
Nanuet resident Roxanne Watson said 75 family members live in the county. She said the STAR Rebate program helped them in the past with household expenses. Some of her relatives are struggling to stay in their Rockland homes.
“The taxes are ridiculous now,” said Watson. “And right now they’re battling to stay in their homes because of taxes. So STAR again would help them.”
Carlucci said the statewide program would cost $202 million. He is convinced money can be found in the state budget to restore the program. Previously, the average rebates in Rockland for Basic STAR had been $692 and for Enhanced STAR $705. Residents would be required to reapply yearly.
Carlucci said action is necessary to help residents who built the county, stay in Rockland. Gloria Biederman, who has lived in Nyack for 87 years in a house that was constructed with wood from Camp Shanks, said the rebate would help. Other supporting Carlucci’s efforts were Florence Holzman of New City, Alan Moskin of Nanuet, Darlyne Lawson of Congers and Seymour Zucker of New City.
The legislation, which was passed in the State Senate and had an Assembly sponsor, did not get through the last legislative session. Carlucci said the state relies too heavily on property taxes to fund the education system and the bill would alleviate some of the taxpayers' burden. He is optimistic the legislation will pass in the 2013 session.
Carlucci issued a call to action for residents to sign an online petition that already has 1,600 signatures. It can be found at www.senatorcarlucci.com.
He described the legislation by saying, “This is an investment in our community.”