You are reading

Op-Ed: How the Next Mayor and Council Can Fix Our Property Tax Crisis

City Council Candidate for District 23 Linda Lee Speaking to voters in Eastern Queens (Photo Courtesy of Linda Lee for NYC)

May 31, 2021 Op-Ed By: Linda Lee

At a time when our politics have never seemed more divided, there’s one thing most New York homeowners can agree on– our property tax system is unfair and in need of reform.

That’s why Eastern Queens residents should consider our votes for Mayor based not only on their commitment to affordable housing for renters but also on their plans to create homeownership opportunities for low- and middle-income families without pricing them out of their homes.

New Yorkers have grown accustomed to calls for affordable housing, the need for which is evident to anyone who lives here. But all too often, the affordability of homeownership is overlooked since the fact that you own your apartment or home is misconstrued as having “made it”.

Reality is different– for many Eastern Queens residents, our homes, co-ops, and condos also represent our life’s savings and retirement plans. Even after you pay off your mortgage, maintenance, utilities, and property taxes continue to rise, making it a struggle to get ahead.

The unfair nature of our property tax system exacerbates this problem. since owners of properties with skyrocketing values have their taxes capped, owners of lower-value properties disproportionately bear the burden of the levee. This means that Eastern Queens union members, families, and retirees subsidize speculative real estate bonanzas in upscale neighborhoods across the City.

This burden is borne by renters too since landlords pass along maintenance costs through higher rental fees. That’s one reason why rents across the City have skyrocketed along with property taxes in recent years. And as small-scale landlords suffer under this uneven tax system, so too will low- and middle-income tenants who rent from them.

Distict 23 Council Candidate Linda Lee (Photo: Linda Lee for NYC)

So as the election approaches and many candidates promise to create a middle-class recovery for New Yorkers, we should look carefully at their promises regarding property taxes.

Because even the most generous rent protections won’t protect against economic reality– something has to give, whether that’s maintenance being deferred or affordable housing given over wholesale to speculative development.

Solving our property tax crisis requires a partnership between the Mayor, City Council, and State Legislature. Mayor de Blasio recently announced the resumption of his Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform, a laudable, if overdue step.

It will be our next Mayor who will have to engage with the Commission to ensure the final report addresses the problem at hand and turns its recommendations from proposals into reality. We need a Mayor who’s committed to helping hard-working homeowners stay in their homes and in New York.

The next City Council will also have a role to play since it’s the Council that sets real property tax rates through the budgetary process. While the Legislature in Albany controls how taxes are allocated between building classes, the Council should ensure that, after the pandemic during which many homeowners and small-scale landlords struggled to make ends meet, property taxes are frozen for at least the next year.

The federal stimulus and economic recovery have already left New York in a stronger financial position than expected, and so at least some of that money should be directed towards relief for working families.

Finally, the Mayor, the City Council, and our State Legislative delegation should together push for real property tax reforms in Albany. Rather than the current system that allows caps to shift the tax burden from high-value real estate speculators to middle-income neighborhoods, taxes should reflect the true sales value of each property.

Right now we are making it cheaper to hoard real estate in hot markets while families in Eastern Queens face the prospect of being priced out of their homes. For a so-called progressive city, this system is terribly regressive.

We should also push for reforms that recognize co-ops and condos as the residential dwellings that they are, rather than at a higher rate as commercial properties under current law. This change could save Eastern Queens families thousands of dollars per year, making a real difference for so many.

It should go without saying, but homes are housing, and we should push for homeownership wherever possible in this City. As mayoral and city council candidates line up with promises to secure affordable housing– desperately necessary after the pandemic and years of skyrocketing prices– they cannot ignore the role that affordable homeownership plays in the formula citywide. As I consider my vote(s) for Mayor, these questions will weigh heavily in my decision. I suggest they do for you too.

Linda Lee is the CEO and President of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York. She is running for City Council in District 23

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Long Island woman sentenced to more than two decades in prison for 2021 hit-and-run that killed NYPD cop: DA

A Long Island woman was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for speeding through an NYPD roadblock while drunk and killing a highway patrolman in a 2021 hit-and-run collision on the Long Island Expressway in Fresh Meadows.

Jessica Beauvais, 35, of Myrtle Avenue in Hempstead, was convicted in October of aggravated manslaughter and other crimes following a 13-day trial in Queens Supreme Court. Beauvais had a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit two hours after plowing into Detective Anastasios Tsakos while he was diverting traffic around another fatal collision, and then speeding away from the scene of the collision.

Crunching the Queens crime numbers: felony assaults across the borough on the rise, burglaries down slightly in northern Queens

Feb. 21, 2024 By Ethan Marshall

The number of felony assaults across Queens increased during the 28-day period from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18, compared to the same period of time last year, according to the latest crime stats released by the NYPD Tuesday. At the same time, the number of reported burglaries experienced a slight but noticeable drop in northern Queens.

Queens father, son charged with possessing cache of loaded ghost gun assault weapons in Fresh Meadows home: DA

A Fresh Meadows father and son are criminally charged with possessing an arsenal of loaded ghost gun assault weapons that were found after a court-authorized search was executed at their home on Wednesday.

Hyung-Suk Woo, 26, and his father, Jin-In Woo, 55, of 198th Street, were arraigned late Wednesday night on a 130-count indictment charging them with 97 counts of criminal possession of a weapon and a slew of other charges after the raid uncovered the assault weapons, as well as silencers made with a 3-D printer and other weapons-related paraphernalia, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday.