“#Property tax ‘loansharking’ will cause middle class to flee NYC, lawmakers say”
June 25, 2020 | 7:43pm
An unexpected floor amendment brought by City Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn) would have reduced the late fees to 0-to-2 percent, providing relief to property owners struggling to pay real estate taxes during the pandemic.
“The city does not have to rely on New Yorkers to fund a loan sharking operation in essence with these usurious rates,” Yeger charged during a council-wide vote.
His Democratic Queens colleague, Bob Holden, said the bill would fuel the exodus of Gotham taxpayers sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s indifference to the concerns of the middle class.
“The middle class in this city continues to be treated as a cash cow. It’s no wonder people are fleeing the city,” Holden said.
Fellow Queens Democrat Peter Koo fumed, “We are tired of people peeing on the streets. The property owners pay a lot of money for services but there’s no services.
“I think property owners have to stand together and tell this administration enough is enough. They have to do something for us,” Koo said.
“Otherwise why would we be the cash cow for the city and they are not feeding us?” he asked.
During the debate members reported getting text messages from mayoral aides encouraging them to vote against Yeger’s proposal.
“This Kalman floor amendment is crazy,” read one text obtained by The Post. “It will bankrupt the city and we will have no money for services.”
Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx) blasted the mayor’s realtime arm twisting.
“For this administration to be sending out a text message putting fear that we’ll bankrupt the city of New York on penalties reiterates the fact that they are hopeful and they are counting on New Yorkers not being able to pay their real estate taxes so they can benefit from the high interest rates,” Gjonaj said.
The amendment would “aid those that can’t afford to pay due to no fault of their own. This is a pandemic that has effected the globe. Instead of working with them and helping them in their time of need, we double down and punish them,” Gjonaj said.
Mayoral spokeswoman Laura Feyer said “The city is facing a projected $9 billion loss in tax revenue over this year and the next and spending what money we have to help New Yorkers rebuild after a global pandemic. This amendment would have drastically hurt our ability to provide vital services to New Yorkers.”
Yeger’s amendment failed, gaining 13 affirmative votes versus 34 negative votes. Still, even a council member who voted against it called for change.
“Everything we do, every program we put forward, everything we initiate has to be funded. It can’t always be funded on the back of the middle class,” Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Queens) said.
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