Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that all residential property owners are eligible for the loan program.
Croton-on Hudson officials passed a law that will give commercial property owners the ability to apply for low interest loans through the Energy Improvement Corporation after a public hearing Tuesday night.
The Energy Improvement Corporation is made up of a group of municipalities that have joined together to help reduce greenhouse emissions in northern Westchester County and promote affordable energy improvements. So far, only only commercial properties, or 1 to 4 family residential properties owned by a corporation, are elegible for the program.
The Corporation, acting on behalf of the village, will provide eligible property owners with home energy audits in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
After the audit is done, NYSERDA will direct eligible property owners to the Energy Improvement Corporation, which is capable providing loans for the muncipalities it represents.
In the past, property owners would either have to fund the project themselves go, through a utility or take out a bank loan. Now, with the passage of the law, local homeowner will have access to loans with lower rates and longer terms.
“The competitive difference between those programs and our program is that you’re taking out a debt when you take on those properties,” said Joe Del Sindaco, board treasurer of the Energy Improvement Corporation. “You’ve got to find the financing and you might have to borrow money from a bank or you might have to borrow it from another institution. If you borrow it from the utility, they might put a lien on your property and that could lower the value of your property.”
The loans would be funded through municipal bonds and the bills for those payments would show up on the tax bills of homeowner. If a property is sold, the loan payments can be transferred to the new owner.
Croton Mayor Leo Wiegman said during Tuesday's board meeting that as many as 150 properties in the village could be eligible for the loan program. He said a number of those property owners told him they were excited about the prospect of getting low interest loans for energy improvements.
Loan payments would be less than the estimated savings in energy use that the property owner will see once the improvements are made.
A loan loss reserve fund is also in place to help municipalities avoid losses from property owners who enter the program, but don’t pay off their loan.
“Because the municipality has to pay us , whether the property owner pays them or not,” Sindaco said. “What we don’t want to do is put them in a position where they wind up losing money. For example, if an improvement is made on the property and the owner doesn’t pay their taxes, the village puts a lien on the property. Once they put the lien on the property, they can foreclose and sell it.”
If the municipality sells the property and still isn’t able to pay off the debt on it, the loan loss reserve will make up the rest.
Sindaco said Ossining, White Plains, Peekskill, Bedford and Orange County have joined Croton in approving the loan program.
The next step for Croton is to pass a resolution authorizing the village to join the Energy Improvement Corporation.