Reports surfaced last month that Governor Cuomo’s girlfriend had been evading taxes by failing to submit permits for significant renovation projects on the couple’s shared $1.2 million home.
Despite Sandra Lee and a Cuomo aide insisting that the projects were simply decorative in nature, the town assessor was barred from entering the home to make an accurate determination of the upgrades. As such, the town has increased the valuation on the home by 29%, which will increase the Cuomo household’s estimated taxes by over $8,000 annually.
Domestic diva Sandra Lee’s property tax break on the $1.2 million New Castle home she shares with Gov. Andrew Cuomo could soon come to an end.
The property valuation on Lee’s New Castle home at 4 Bittersweet Lane was increased 29 percent in the town’s 2014 tentative assessment rolls, filed this month. Assessor Phil Platz raised the value from $936,000 to the $1.2 million Lee paid in 2008 for the six-bedroom, five-bath home on three acres with a pond.
The assessment increase would boost the property’s tax bill by an estimated $8,200 — from $28,312 to $36,500, based on 2013 tax rates.
Platz was not allowed access to the home’s interior. To be fair, interior access is not something required of the homeowners.
“I was forced to estimate what I thought they had,” Platz said.
The question is, if all renovations on the home were merely decorative, why would there be a problem allowing an interior look?
Media reports indicate they were not, in fact, decorative.
Interior renovations included “ripp(ing) out an ’80s-era powder room,” installing “parallel white marble islands in the kitchen,” joining two smaller spaces, installing a “wall of windows” in the living room, and remodeling the basement. Work that the building inspector stated “would definitely require a permit.”
Larry Schwartz, one of Cuomo’s top aides denied those reports, saying the interior renovations were decorative, and that remodeling the basement meant “adding window treatments.”
Schwartz’ defense was more than verbal, as he used state taxpayer resources to help Lee settle multiple code violations.
A campaign aide for Republican candidate Rob Astorino responded to the news, saying there is “one set of rules for them (New Yorkers) and a separate set of rules for the politically powerful.”