The Journal News’s Adrienne Sanders reported Friday on the rise of property tax exemptions granted by New York State to religious institutions, from $14 billion to $26 billion. Sanders focused particularly on Ramapo, which has a total of 523 tax-exempt religious properties. All those properties together are worth an estimated $265 million, which is the second highest in the state after New York City.
Rockland County, in which Ramapo is located, is the most Jewish county in the U.S., and nearly a third of its residents identify as Jewish. That means that many of the properties being tax exempt are owned by Jewish institutions.
Yossi Gestetner lives in Ramapo, but he wasn’t phased by the report. He focused specifically on the number of clergy residences in Ramapo, 250 parcels worth $123 million, which means that only one in every 120 pieces of land is a clergy residence
“I used to read on the blogs that the Jews in Ramapo don’t pay property taxes,” Gestetner said. “But now I see that more than 99% of properties in Ramapo are taxed. And that’s actually good news.”
Aaron Weider, who is running for Assemblyman in the 98th District, which includes Ramapo, refused to speak on the matter, saying that he did not know enough about tax exemptions. His opponent, Karl A. Brabenec, could not be reached for comment.