State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patty Ritchie

How does hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket each year sound?

If you’re a homeowner, that’s what you could be receiving through the state’s STAR program, which provides 2.6 million homeowners in New York state — including nearly 85,000 in our region — with savings on their school property tax bills each year.

Recently, dozens of people in the Central and Northern New York region re-registered for the program through my STAR workshops, held in Pulaski, Watertown and Gouverneur. Made possible with the help of local assessors, these events helped those who currently receive Basic STAR re-register for the benefit.

A new state law mandates re-registering to streamline administration of the program and help prevent fraud. The requirement does not affect senior homeowners enrolled in Enhanced STAR.

The Basic STAR exemption is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the combined income of resident owners and their spouses is $500,000 or less. Married couples with multiple residences are only eligible to receive one Basic STAR exemption.

I’ve been working hard to spread the word about re-registering for this money-saving program, and as a result, more than 1,100 homeowners have clicked through my website to reapply online for Basic STAR.  But, state officials say more than 20,000 Basic STAR enrollees in our region still need to re-register.

Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a warning regarding deceptive STAR program solicitations. State officials said companies have been sending letters to homeowners offering to help them apply for their Basic STAR exemption in exchange for the first year’s tax savings.

Please know if you’re a homeowner, you can reapply on your own for free.

If you still need to re-register, you can find a link to do so on my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov.  You can also call the special STAR hotline at (518) 457-2036.  Representatives will be available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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