The Queens County Republican Party has called for an investigation of state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) after she admitted in late June that she had been living out of the district since March. But the assemblywoman said Tuesday that she had moved back to Bayside last week.
Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa said the party wants Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the state Ethics Board to determine whether Carrozza misled her constituents by living in a Glen Head property known as “The Crossways” that she and her husband, William Duke, purchased for $1.8 million in June 2008.
“In this time, when Albany dysfunction is at an all-time high and government spending is out of control at every level of government, we need to be extremely diligent in demanding real reform from our elected officials,” Ragusa said. “And the most basic reform we should demand is that officials truly live in the districts they are elected to represent, as required by law.”
Carrozza said state law did not prohibit her from temporarily living in the Long Island house. But she said this week that she was once again living in Bayside.
“I’m back in Bayside as of last week,” she said. “This smacks of early campaigning. I think all of our efforts are best focused on issues in Albany. I view this as a waste of taxpayer resources. We’ve seen in the past when politicians misdirect resources into baseless investigations. During this time of economic hardship for so many families, that money could be better spent.”
Randolph Yunker, a spokesman for the Nassau County Assessment Department, said Carrozza’s husband applied in December 2008 for a STAR exemption on the Glen Head property.
One of Carrozza’s Bayside homes had also received the exemption and would have saved the couple $232 on their 2009-2010 tax bill in Queens, city Finance Department records show. But a spokesman for that department said a request had been made by one of the property’s owners this week to remove the School Tax Relief Program exemption. The home will not receive the benefit for the fiscal year which began July 1, he said.
The application for the Long Island property had been approved, but the Nassau department froze it when it discovered that the Bayside home already had an exemption.
STAR, which is overseen by the state’s Office of Real Property Services, gives married couples a tax break on their primary residence. But state rules stipulate that a husband and wife can have an exemption for only one residence unless they are legally separated.
The deed for Carrozza’s Bayside home lists both her and her husband’s name, a Finance Department spokesman said. But the department could not verify who applied for a STAR exemption for the home. Mortgage papers for the Glen Head home obligate the owner to “occupy the property and use the property as [their] principal residence within 60 days.” It also requires the owner to “continue to occupy the property and use the property for at least one year.”
Yunker said the couple would only be allowed to have one home with a STAR exemption.
“Our interest is not in who applied for it, but that there was a STAR on another piece of property,” he said. “We don’t check with other municipalities when someone applies. We take people at their word when they show us proof that they are living in a home.”
The Long Island property would not receive a tax break from a STAR exemption until after October, he said. The savings for the home, under last year’s assessment, could save its owner an estimated $700. But this year’s figures have not yet been determined.
In late June, Carrozza said she and her husband had been living in an “investment property” in Glen Head as they planned to adopt a child and search for a new home in Bayside. But the Queens property in which she previously lived would not provide enough space for three children and she had already promised to rent the home to an Oregon couple for part of the year. She currently owns two homes and two sites for office space in Bayside. She has not yet decided what she will ultimately do with the Long Island property, which she said is her husband’s primary residence.
John Conklin, director of public information for the state Elections Board, said elected officials are legally allowed to live outside their district as long as they intend to return.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community News Group
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