2018-06-13 / Front Page

Finalized City Budget Draws Near Despite Debate On Metro Cards, Homeowners’ Rebate

By Richard Gentilviso
The city’s final budget is not due until July 1, but there are signs that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council are moving closer to an agreement.

When the mayor presented his $86 million executive budget in April, two items favored by the City Council were not funded. The Fair Fares program to offer half-price MetroCards to city residents living below the federal poverty line and a $400 tax rebate to homeowners with incomes under $150,000 have been the subject of intense negotiation since then.  

The Fair Fares program to provide as many as 800,000 city residents with half-price MetroCards would cost an estimated $212 million and while City Council Speaker Corey Johnson maintains there is money in the budget to pay for the program, Mayor de Blasio has steadfastly supported a tax on millionaires as the best way to pay for the program, as well as for other improvements to mass transit.  

Only three out of 51 members in the City Council do not support the Fair Fares program, according to the Gotham Gazette as of June 8.

“We are still working. There is no deal,” said a spokesperson for the mayor in a June 7 New York Times report.

Johnson and de Blasio did announce the formation of a new advisory commission to review the New York City property tax system on June 4. The last review by a government-appointed commission was in 1933.

The commission, charged with developing new recommendations to reform the city’s property tax system to make it simpler, clearer and fairer, will hold at least 10 public hearings and its review will include tax classification, methods of determining property market values and assessments, treatment of property tax value increases, relief for low-income and senior homeowners and the method of calculating tax rates.

Recommendations could include changes made by the city, as well as those that may require state legislation. Property taxes make up 45 percent of the local tax base in New York City.

“Throughout our budget process we have heard over and over again about the financial pain caused by the unfair and overly complex property tax system currently in place. We simply must do better. This is an opportunity to make real strides on an important issue as we work to improve this system for our neighbors and the entire city,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, chair of the Council’s Finance Committee.


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