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The home of Food Network star Sandra Lee and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 4 Bittersweet Lane in New Castle, N.Y. / David McKay Wilson, The Westchester County, N.Y., Journal News

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- 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.

The action comes less than a month after a Journal News investigation revealed that Lee, the host of four television shows on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, had carried out extensive renovations at the home without getting building permits for the work and without triggering any increase in the home's taxable value.

Platz said he based his valuation on a May 27 exterior inspection of the house Lee calls Lily Pond. Assessors do not have a right to inspect a home's interior, and Platz said in this case he was denied access.

"I was forced to estimate what I thought they had," Platz said.

Sandra Lee's spokewoman Audra Boltion declined to say why Lee refused to allow the assessor to inspect Lily Pond's interior.

"Sandra will review the assessment," Boltion said.

William O'Reilly, a campaign spokesman for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is challenging Cuomo for governor, said the Lily Pond situation smacked of a double standard.

"This is what drives New Yorkers crazy; one set of rules for them and a separate set of rules for the politically powerful," O'Reilly said.

Cuomo's office did not respond to a request for comment about the assessment increase.

Lee has until June 17 to file a grievance against Platz's decision to increase the house's value. If she does not, the assessment becomes final on Sept. 15, the assessor said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Sandra Lee-Cuomo home assessment raised 29%

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