As city and state governments scramble to close budget gaps brought on by declining tax revenues during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to not raise the property taxes of New York City homeowners, Silive.com reports.
“I just don’t believe a property tax increase [is] the right thing, and I won’t do it … that’s off the table, period,” de Blasio said during a press conference. “People in this city are hurting in a way that is unprecedented. The only thing that compares, you have to go back to the Great Depression. The last thing we’re going to ask people to do is to have to pay more – working people, middle-class people, struggling to keep it together and over a million people have lost their jobs. We’re not going to ask them to pay more in property taxes.”
The announcement comes as welcome news to strapped co-op and condo residents, who have waited years for long-promised reform of the city’s archaic system of levying property taxes – only to see the latest round of proposals stalled by the pandemic.
Instead of raising property taxes, which fund more than half of the city’s budget, de Blasio is working to find savings as the city faces a $9 billion budget shortfall as a result of the pandemic. The city already made $7 billion in cuts in its fiscal 2021 budget and is working with labor unions to find more savings, and it’s trying to secure long-term borrowing authority from the state.
De Blasio had been hopeful the federal government would help the city with another stimulus bill, but he predicted Wednesday that might not happen before the end of the year.
If the city is unable to come to an agreement with labor unions or get the borrowing authority it needs from the state, it will be forced to lay off 22,000 city employees. The mayor has, so far, held off sending layoff notices. De Blasio said he and staff from his office would take a week of unpaid furlough starting Oct. 1 in an attempt to find additional savings in the city’s budget.
While the mayor balks at raising property taxes, other locales are making moves to fill budget gaps. A bill now before the New York State Legislature would impose an additional pied-a-terre tax on luxury second homes. And last week, New Jersey became one of the first states to pass a “millionaires tax,” an additional levy on its wealthiest residents.
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