Rockland Co-Op Purchase Reform to Become Law This Summer

John Jordan | March 2018

While Rockland County Executive Ed Day did not sign the co-op purchase reform bill, he did recently sign two bills that help reduce property taxes for veterans.

NEW CITY—Rockland County Executive Ed Day is allowing the recently passed co-op purchase reform bill to become law, but has requested the County Legislature go further and enact a provision that would require cooperative boards provide a reason for an applicant’s denial.

County Executive Day announced that he would leave the bill, sponsored by County Legislator Alden H. Wolfe, unsigned, thus allowing the bill to become law 90 days after it is filed with the New York Secretary of State. The bill requires a co-op board to provide written notice to the applicant of its decision within 45 days of the receipt of a fully completed purchase application. If the co-op board fails to act on that application within the mandated 45-day period, the application will be deemed approved.

“I returned the law unsigned with a request that the legislature amend the law to require cooperative boards to provide a report and rationale for the denial or approval of an applicant. I believe such a provision would further advance the cause of civil rights and bring these decisions into the light of day,” said County Executive Ed Day. “However, I did not want to issue a veto over one issue. My hope is that the legislature will reexamine the Local Law, add this provision, and help me to prevent discriminatory acts from taking place here in Rockland County.”

The County Executive in a Feb. 28th letter to the County Legislature proposed that the co-op board supply a report detailing the reason for a denial within 10 days of its decision.

The reform bill, which should become law by the late spring or early summer, affects an estimated 2,644 units of housing on 20 parcels in Suffern, Spring Valley, Hillcrest and Garnerville.

HGAR officials praised the County Executive for his stance on the need for changes to the cooperative housing transaction process.

“Creating a timeline is very effective in improving co-op transactions. I applaud County Executive Ed Day for recognizing the need for co-op boards to give a reason for a denial as well, which would further improve and bring more transparency to the process,” said HGAR President Barry Kramer.

HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty added, “We are extremely pleased with Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s support of this legislation and we hope that the County Board of Legislators follows through with his recommendations, which we believe will strengthen transparency in the co-op transaction.”

The New York State Association of Realtors and HGAR continue to advocate for a definitive cooperative purchase timeline as well as the requirement for cooperative boards to put in writing a reason for a denial of an applicant. Legislation is pending on the state level, as well as before the Westchester County Board of Legislators. A bill sponsored by Westchester County Legislators Catherine Borgia (District 9) and Christopher Johnson (District 16) would set the 45-day timeline for a decision, as well as a establish a requirement for a cooperative board to spell out the reason for a denial of an applicant.

Philip Weiden, government affairs director for HGAR, tells Real Estate In-Depth that a public hearing on the bill will likely take place sometime in April or May. HGAR encourages its membership to look for further details and to come out in support of the bill since it is expected the proposal will receive strong opposition from the co-op and building association sectors.

Earlier this month, Rockland County Executive Day did put pen to paper and signed housing-related several bills—the Exemption for Cold War Veterans and an Alternative Veterans Exemption—that are geared to providing property tax assistance to Rockland County veterans. Both resolutions were also sponsored by Legislator Wolfe.

“Society reserves the right to ensure fair and balanced treatment based upon contributions to that society,” County Executive Day said. “Few endeavors are worthier of that than to acknowledge those who wrote a blank check to Uncle Sam for an amount up to and including their life. If not for our veterans, the liberties we enjoy in this country would not be here, and I think the least we can do is to afford them some assistance in dealing with the day to day cost of living here in Rockland.”

“Our veterans are the reason we live in freedom today,” Legislator Wolfe said. “A tax exemption is just one way of recognizing their service and expressing our gratitude for their sacrifices.”

The Cold War Veterans Exemption calls for indefinitely extending the property tax exemption available to veterans of the Cold War. The law was scheduled to expire statewide this year, but local governments have been given the opportunity to extend their participation.

The exemption provides vets with exemptions similar to those given to wartime veterans. Cold War veterans served in the U.S. Armed Forces between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 20, 1991.

The law provides a maximum 15% tax exemption on a veteran’s primary residence that cannot exceed $40,000.

The Alternative Veterans Exemption calls for increasing the maximum allowable exemption for wartime, combat and disabled veterans. The new law would increase the home value cap for the exemption to $250,000; up from $180,000.

The law provides a 15% assessment reduction to vets who served during a time of war (capped at $75,000); an additional 10% assessment reduction to vets serving in combat zones (capped at $50,000); and an additional assessment reduction to vets who incurred a service-connected disability (capped at $250,000).

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth