Spin Cycle

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo approved a law Tuesday that would lower property-tax assessments on properties destroyed or damaged by superstorm Sandy.

The measure allows for retroactive assessments of recent tax bills. But municipalities must first “opt in” to the program by passing a local law to participate; municipalities will set the threshold for how much damage a property must have suffered to participate. Property owners have 90 days from Tuesday to apply to a local assessor for a reduction.

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Cuomo, in signing the law, said that many property owners received tax bills last January that were based on pre-Sandy valuations and didn’t reflect storm losses. Long Island legislators led the push for the law.

“Property owners will be spared from paying full taxes on homes that are no longer there or were no longer habitable after the storm,” said Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), who sponsored the measure in the Assembly. “This is a simple matter of fairness.”

The other sponsor, Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said lawmakers worked “across party lines” to enact the law.

The measure not only applies to Nassau and Suffolk counties, but also Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. New York City is excluded.

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Cuomo also signed three other Sandy-related bills. One enables school districts to use reserve funds for Sandy recovery expenses; another gives municipalities an additional year to pay back state-fund advances.

The final bill allows communities within the Peconic Bay region – East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold – to use preservation funds to protect areas at risk of storm erosion.