Warwick looks to add real estate transfer tax; buyers would pay 2 percent of purchase price

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:58

    WARWICK-The Town Board is hoping that the third time is the charm for a real estate transfer tax first requested by the board two years ago and again last year. This year there's one of Warwick's own in the Assembly, Annie Rabbitt, and the board sent its request to her to introduce the measure on the assembly floor. The board wants to charge a real estate tax, up to two percent, to anyone buying property in the Town of Warwick. The money from this tax would go into the town's Purchase of Development Rights pot, a fund approved by the voters in 2000 to supplement state and federal PDR programs to buy the development rights of farms and other open space. Warwick voters would have to approve this tax. But before the board can put this proposal to its voters, it must receive approval from the state Senate and Assembly, declaring it a home rule issue. "Legislation like this was passed five or six years ago for municipalities on Long Island," said town Councilman Leonard DeBuck. "We are trying to pass the same legislation as Long Island did. We adopted their language." Two years ago, the Town of Warwick, along with the towns of Goshen, Crawford and Montgomery, requested that the state allow them to institute a real estate transfer tax for the purchase of open space, subject to local voter approval. That didn't happen, as the bills were blocked. They tried again last year with a similar result "Two years ago, the state said this should be a county effort," DeBuck said. "While we agree, it's really not a county issue. A couple of state legislators last year tried to do a statewide referendum but it never made it. We don't care which version is passed-one for us or one for the state. We're not fussy." The funds from the tax would go directly into the town's Purchase of Development Rights fund and could be used for the purchase of open space as well as restoration of historic structures.