Tax Cut Talks By Mayor- Council Spark Homeowner Hopes
That thunderous applause you heard throughout the five boroughs last week was the city's homeowners reacting to a report that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council are discussing giving property owners a larger reduction in real estate taxes than had been previously proposed.
If there's a final agreement, the 5 percent cut the mayor has already proposed would go up another 3 percent to 8.5 percent.
Councilmember David Weprin (D- Hollis), council Finance Committee chairman, confirmed the talks are going on. Weprin, who has been calling for a larger tax cut was quoted on the subject by the New York Post last week said: "No question, something's on the table now. We want to make sure people's tax bills aren't higher than the year before. That's the mission."
What sparked the tax-cutting talk between the mayor and the council was a sharp increase in real estate assessments in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. By then the next year's city budget should be in place.
The increased tax assessments will drive up real estate taxes tremendously, so much so that the 5 percent tax cut the mayor proposed would be swallowed up, which accounts for Weprin's concern "to make sure people's tax bills aren't higher than the year before".
Besides the proposed tax cut, the mayor is also seeking an extension on his annual $400 rebate to small homeowners. But state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned that even with the rebate and the proposed real estate tax decrease, "the average residential homeowner in all boroughs will pay more property taxes next year" because of skyrocketing assessments.
Fortunately, the city has the money on hand to be as generous as the mayor and council want to be, so there's every likelihood that the 8.5 percent tax cut will go through.
RUDY, MAYOR TIFF: While the mayor's tax cut talk had hordes of taxpayers, figuratively patting Bloomberg on the back, he was being pummeled by a former Giuliani administration official who took exception to the mayor's statement that he won't leave his successor in the same hole as Mayor Rudy did.
The mayor and the Republican presidential
hopeful aren't on the best of terms at
this point, so the mayor's defense
that the imbroglio is just a
sit well with Giuliani's
former Deputy Mayor
It all started when the
mayor said on his radio talk
show last week that he won't leave
his successor in the same financial mess he found when he took office in 2002. The $4.8 billion budget deficit put the city in the worst fiscal crisis since the 1970s.
Bloomberg moved immediately to slash the budget and cut city jobs. Recalling all this, Bloomberg said he was determined not to leave his successor in a similar hole.
Even before any criticism was directed at the mayor, his press aide, Stu Loeser, told reporters that the mayor wasn't criticizing Giuliani, but instead citing the economic fallout from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. But, the next day, Lhota maintained that the mayor wasn't talking about 9/11. "It was an attack on Mayor Giuliani and the budget he left," he charged.
Bloomberg hasn't endorsed anyone in the presidential race because he says, he has to work with whoever wins the job eventually. However, Bloomberg has been mentioned frequently as a possible presidential candidate and has just as frequently said "no way". Maybe it was the subconscious candidate talking.
QUEENS DEMS TO ENDORSE CLINTON: U.S. Senator Hillary [Rodham] Clinton is expected to be at Queens Democratic Party headquarters this Friday to accept that organization's endorsement for president in next year's election.
District leaders report they were notified by County Chairman Congressmember Joseph Crowley to be at the Forest Hills offices on Friday to vote on an endorsement. Crowley reportedly backs the state's junior senator, who enjoys favorable poll numbers in a crowded field.
However, one district leader, City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate (D- Corona,) who's frequently at odds with the Queens organization, has endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Other Hispanic city and state officials are remaining neutral. Last week, when Governor Eliot Spitzer endorsed Clinton, Assemblymember Jose Peralta, also a Corona Democrat, absented himself from the meeting in Albany.
PRIMARY ELECTIONS SEPT. 18: Primary Day in New York state is ordinarily held on the second Tuesday of September. However, the second Tuesday in September 2007 is September 11, the sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. The election date therefore has been moved to September 18.
Explaining the switch, Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza (D- Bayside), chair of the Election Law Committee, stated: "The memories of the tragic and horrific events of September 11, 2001, are always with us. It's important that on the anniversary of that terrible day we take the time to pay tribute to those who so unfairly and so brutally had their lives taken from them."
Previously, the legislature and Spitzer set the presidential primary date for February 5.
On September 18 primaries for congressional and state legislative offices will be held.
STREET NAMING BROUHAHA: Street name changes voted by the City Council are generally rubber-stamp proceedings. But last week's vote against renaming a Brooklyn street in honor of controversial black activist Sonny Carson could create opposition to Councilmember Leroy Comrie's bid for Queens Borough President in 2009.
Comrie (D- St. Albans), also black, voted against the Carson renaming angering Viola Plummer, chief of staff to Councilmember Charles Barron, who was also strongly in favor of the Carson resolution.
Plummer, a Queens resident, allegedly said after the vote: "If it takes an assassination of [Comrie's] ass, he will not be borough president of the borough in which I live."
Amid the furor over Plummer's alleged remarks, Barron explained later the "assassination" reference was only to Comrie's political life.
Incumbent Queens Borough President Helen Marshall will be term-limited out of office at the end of 2009, setting up an election to choose her successor.
GOP NAMES NYC REGIONAL VICE CHAIR: Moving to tighten up the state's Republican organization, state chairman Joseph N.Mondello has announced the election of Joseph J. Savino, The Bronx GOP chairman, as regional vice chairman for the area covering New York City.
"All of the boroughs now have active and dedicated chairmen committed to rebuilding the Republican Party from the ground up," said Savino, "and I am certain that in the near future you will be hearing a lot more from us."
Queens Republican Leader Philip Ragusa, who recently became county chairman, announced a party rebuilding effort upon taking office, including holding a voter registration drive and a "Candidate's School".
MALONEY BILL GIVES GREECE VISA WAIVER STATUS
Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Gus Bilirakis have introduced a bill to place Greece in the Visa Waiver Program, which would permit Greeks who are traveling to the United States as tourists or for business to stay for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
Maloney (D- Queens/Manhattan) and Bilirakis (R- Florida) were joined by 29 co-sponsors. Greece is the only one of the 15 European Union nations that is not in the special program.
Maloney, who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues with Bilirakis, stated, "Greece is a critical U.S. ally. I hope the State Department and Department of Homeland Security will move forward to include Greece in the Visa Waiver Program."
She said her bill is "an important step toward making that happen" and that Greece meets the criteria mandated for entry into the program.
BE EXTRA CAREFUL AT ROCKAWAY BEACH
If you do your swimming at Rockaway Beach during this summer, be very careful because the water has a strong riptide and there have been at least nine drownings there since 1999, according to a recent report.
Liam Kavanagh, Parks Department first deputy commissioner in charge of beaches and pools, calls Rockaway Beach "the most challenging beach both for swimming and lifeguarding".
Kavanagh warns: "There's tougher surf at Rockaway Beach and potential for more difficult currents. We have veteran lifeguards supervising there."
The drowning statistics were compiled by the New York Post from Health Department records and were published in an article recently.