“The Town of Ramapo has pulled a controversial proposal to give tax breaks to first-time buyers of newly constructed homes.
The plan would have lowered town taxes over five years, by 50 percent the first year down to 10 percent in the last, for those who bought a newly built home and had not owned a home before.
A public hearing planned for later this month will instead be a “town hall meeting” for residents and officials to discuss other ways to lessen the burden on taxpayers, Supervisor Michael Specht said Friday.
Specht said state guidelines that allow such exemptions had changed since the town developed the proposal, raising the maximum eligible home price to $720,000. That limit, Specht said, ran counter to the town’s goal of creating affordability.
“There was a concern it would not benefit existing residents, it would only benefit people moving in from outside the town,” the supervisor said. “It was a law that didn’t have the answers to the problems we’re trying to solve: Making it affordable for people to stay in the town.”
Specht acknowledged the disapproval registered by some residents, which included an online petition opposing the law.
“We’re taking into account … the valid criticisms people have have expressed about this proposal,” he said.
The plan comes amid the continuing controversy connected with overdevelopment in a town that is among the state’s fastest growing.
Deborah Munitz, a local activist on land-use issues, said the proposal was launched without any accompanying analysis.She also questioned why the board would schedule a public hearing in August, when no one is around.
She said Friday that pulling the proposal was “the sensible thing to do.”
“It was an unjustifiable proposed local law that had no business being considered in the Town of Ramapo,” she said. “From the perspective of the Town of Ramapo finances and overdevelopment, it would only have served to exacerbate the two biggest concerns of the residents of Ramapo and should never have been proposed in the first place.”
Bill Weber, a town watchdog who ran unsuccessfully for town supervisor in 2017, pointed out the proposal was announced amid an estimated $8 million budget deficit.
“So, knowing that, why would the town want to collect less taxes from newly constructed homes?” he stated. “We feel that this proposed law is a gift to the same developers who have been funding the campaigns for the current and previous administrations for years; the same administrations who got us in the mess that we are currently in.”
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