When Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the Legislature to make the 2011 property tax cap law permanent during his recent Budget Address, imposing a two percent cap on local municipalities’ property tax levy, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I,Ref-Brooklyn, Staten Island) picked up on what she calls a glaring omission.
“The Governor specifically excluded New York City from his proposal, saying we ‘don’t have that same burden of property tax,’” noted Malliotakis, who, throughout 2018, was a very vocal advocate for reforming New York City’s property tax structure and establishing a tax cap.
“It’s unconscionable and unacceptable and it’s a slap in the face of all of the hardworking people of New York City,” Malliotakis continued.
The Assemblywoman, who has advocated for property tax reform in the past, holding a tax protest rally last June in Miller Field, used the Governor’s remarks as an impetus to create a petition to fight for New York City’s inclusion.
“We need to make our voices heard to ensure that the extension includes New York City,” she said. “While the residents of other municipalities in the state have been protected by the two percent cap on their property tax levy, New York City’s levy has increased by a whopping 44 percent in the last five years alone. New York City has become unaffordable for homeowners and renters alike and enough is enough.”
Malliotakis, who represents the 64th district, which consists of part of Kings and Richmond counties, calls those statistics “staggering.”
“We can’t count on Mayor de Blasio to treat New York City homeowners fairly, and now it is clear we can’t count on the Governor either. The city must lead and impose a cap so our residents aren’t forced to leave the communities they call home. Otherwise, we will continue to see more of our neighbors join the 48,000 residents who left New York last year.”
The Governor’s remarks come on the heels of a recent Supreme Court ruling which will allow a lawsuit alleging the city’s property tax system is biased against low-income and minority owners to proceed. And a report by Crains New York in September detailed the disparity between the property taxes of Staten Island homeowners vs residents in the other boroughs.
“There’s a huge disparity,” Malliotakis agreed during a phone interview on her way home from Governor Cuomo’s Budget Address in Albany. “Staten Islanders pay the highest effective tax rate in the city of New York but there are communities in the Bronx, Queens and parts of southwest Brooklyn who are also hit with extremely high effective tax rates. And then there’s communities in Park Slope, downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan who pay the lowest effective tax rates in city. The question is why are communities like ours with modest incomes subsidizing these wealthier, more affluent and trendier neighbors?”
It’s an issue that Malliotakis brought to light during her mayoral campaign, which resulted in the establishment of city-run property tax commission.
“It took (Mayor) de Blasio a year to announce the formation of this commission and then we find out there is no Staten Islander on said commission,” Malliotakis said. “We protested and got Staten Island represented but the entire process has been extremely frustrating.”
The goal of that commission is to investigate the city’s tax disparities and research the need for a property tax cap. Staten Island resident, Allen Cappelli, an attorney who also serves on the City Planning Commission, is the borough’s representative.
“The Commission just concluded a five borough tour and when they came to Staten Island, very few people came out to testify,” Malliotakis said. “Transportation has always been our number one issue, but in my opinion, property tax is now taking the lead as our biggest concern.”
During the Staten Island hearing, Malliotakis proposed her own plan to the Commission, pushing for a flat effective tax rate across all boroughs as well as a cap for senior citizens who struggle with their annual bill. A third part of her proposal calls for New York City’s inclusion in the two percent cap on local municipalities’ property tax.
“The Governor says that New York City is not affected by the burden of property tax and that shows that my legislation is not going to be easy to implement,” Malliotakis concluded. “But I urge all New York City residents to sign my petition as both homeowners and renters are affected by this problem. The proposal will play a prominent role in this year’s budget process.”
The petition can be found online at https://nicolemalliotakis.com/property-tax-petition