Thompson Picks Up Support For $600 Senior Tax Rebate Proposal
City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. has been a busy man the past few weeks, reaching out to City Hall and Albany to line up support for his CASH proposal which would give some seniors who are property owners another $600 real estate tax rebate.
Thompson said he hopes to hear from Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week. He already has a strong supporter in a prominent position, City Councilmember David Weprin, chairman of the council Finance Committee.
And during a visit to Albany last week, he spoke with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders who will ultimately have to approve or disapprove his plan.
"People were very receptive up there, and they told me that after they take care of passing the state budget, they'll focus on my proposal," Thompson said.
There's a chance state lawmakers will achieve their goal of passing the 2006 state budget on time by this Saturday, April 1. It would be the second on-time budget in a row after 20 straight years of late budgets.
Thompson announced his proposal several weeks ago. It calls for a $600 real estate tax rebate for couples 65 or older who have a combined income of $66,050 or less and are enrolled in the New York State Enhanced School Tax Relief (STAR) program beginning in Fiscal Year 2007.
The comptroller said there are about 81,000 qualifying senior households in one-, two-, and three family houses and condominium or cooperative apartments that are used as the owners' primary residence. If approved, qualifying seniors would start collecting the benefits in the fall of 2007. The cost to the city would be $50 million annually.
These seniors would continue to receive the $400 rebate started by Bloomberg three years ago which is about to expire. It's expected the mayor is going to seek to have it extended in Albany.
Thompson explained, "The rapidly escalating costs of home ownership, including higher assessed values, higher property tax rates and increasing energy and insurance expenses, has placed significant burdens on New York City seniors living on fixed incomes.
Besides Weprin, Thompson also reached out to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for support. The Speaker hasn't responded, but Weprin (D-Hollis) said, "Many senior homeowners are forced to make extraordinarily difficult choices about prioritizing their daily living expenses; some seniors may even face the risk of losing their homes." "I support it. It's a great idea."
Weprin said there is also solid support among Queens councilmembers as well as others from around the city.
QICA HONORS 3: At a celebration of the Queens Interagency Council on Aging (QICA) 35th anniversary last Thursday, three individuals were recognized for their efforts on behalf of seniors. City Councilmember John Liu (D-Flushing) and Bobbie Sackman, director of public policy at the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York, received the Rose Kryzak Legislative Award, in recognition of excellence and continuing leadership in enacting legislation that benefits the senior citizens of Queens.
The late Kryzak was one of the most effective senior advocates. The Flushing woman was active in Albany and New York City Hall during the 1970s and '80s.
The third award recipient was Grace S. Nierenberg, senior vice president of senior communities at Selfhelp Community Services Inc. She received the Leon Von Holden Advocacy Award for aging advocacy and demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of older adults.
QICA was founded in 1971. It is a borough wide coalition of more than 200 senior service organizations and individuals providing services to seniors. Through education, collaboration and advocacy, QICA works to improve the quality of life, health and cultural enrichment of older adults.
The anniversary celebration took place at the Kew Gardens Community Center, 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd., Suite 202, Kew Gardens. QICA has its office headquarters at that address. The organization can be reached at 718-268-5954.