It turns out that Andrew Cuomo has been avoiding his property taxes. He lives at his girlfriend’s Westchester County home. Sandra Lee is Food Network host who has built a national brand of household products. She and the governor share her 6-bedroom, $1.2 million home at 4 Bittersweet Lane in the fashionable town of New Castle. Their most recent property tax bill was $28,312.
But the town assessor claims that the couple has run afoul — conducting various renovation projects without obtaining necessary permits, which would inform the assessor whether or not the interior work warranted a reassessment of the couple’s property tax bill.
Lee originally purchased the property in the middle of the housing collapse in 2008 for $1.7 million, and then got the assessment lowered to $1.2 million based on its condition. Her subsequent renovations were featured in New York Magazine, USA Today, and People. Westchester real estate agents say the house would sell for at least $1.5 million.
Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle reports:
Lee “ripped out an ’80s-era powder room and its ‘icky’ bunny wallpaper,” according to a December 2010 article in USA TODAY. “She put parallel white marble islands in the kitchen. She joined two smaller, darker spaces and installed a wall of windows to create one big, bright living room.”
Maskiel [Town Assessor] said work of that magnitude “would definitely require a permit. I haven’t heard about any remodeling there. Anything that involves removing walls or reconfiguring doors would require a building permit.”
New York Magazine, meanwhile, in March 2011, reported house improvements and how the governor and Lee approach domestic duties: “Lee just remodeled the basement. ‘We’re very traditional,’ she says of their respective roles. ‘I don’t like to put gas in the car or take out the garbage. He doesn’t particularly like to decorate window treatments.’ ”
There is no finished basement listed in town assessment records for 4 Bittersweet Lane.
“New Yorkers pay the highest taxes in the nation.,” Astorino says. “It’s especially disturbing then to learn that Mr. Cuomo is not and has not been paying his fair share of property taxes the entire time he has been Governor. More than that, it looks like Mr. Cuomo has intentionally been evading his fair share of property taxes by not reporting major renovations to his home, as required by State law.”
“Those renovations have even appeared in national news magazines. Now Mr. Cuomo is baring his town’s tax assessor from entering his home. He won’t let the assessor in to see what was done.”
Astorino’s campaign circulated the video below via email:
For the record, Astorino got a permit for a $10,000 renovation project on his home, which is assessed at $606,000, and pictured below:
Meanwhile, Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy has been circulating this video: