Encouragement for mixed-use properties in Cicero

Cicero has an opportunity to take advantage of a new property tax exemption that, if approved by the town board, will increase the flexibility of commercial properties in the town, promote economic growth and give some property owners a tax break. Recently, after the Onondaga County Legislature passed a similar exemption for county taxes, I met with county officials to see if an exemption program is available at the town level. There is.

This exemption program provides a tax break to commercial land owners who convert a portion of their property to residential use or mixed use. The town board will hold a public hearing on this new exemption at its April 13 meeting. A copy of the proposal will be available on the town's website, ciceronewyork.net. I encourage everyone to read and support this new exemption because it will benefit the entire town.

Under this new program, a qualifying commercial property owner will receive a tax exemption if they convert their parcel into a mixed commercial/residential use. In other words, this exemption makes it attractive to build an apartment above a storefront or build a storefront in an apartment complex.

Parcels that could potentially benefit from this exemption would typically be found within the towns three hamlets-Brewerton, Bridgeport and North Syracuse-which also are the town's economic centers. The program awards a 100 percent exemption to the cost of the improvements to these properties. That means if someone spent $50,000 to add an apartment, that $50,000 would be exempt from taxes for the next eight years.

The tax breaks would continue for another four years on a sliding scale ranging from 80 percent to 20 percent. That's up to 12 years of property tax exemptions. Because this exemption encourages the development of under-used commercial properties, all Cicero residents will benefit. Greater use means more sales tax revenue. It also means more people coming to our town and seeing what Cicero has to offer.

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