Action will allow an interest-free extension on the next property tax bill for residential properties severely damaged by Sandy

Council will vote on items related to federal deficit reduction, biotechnology, recycling and land use

New York, NY – Today, the City Council will vote to issue an interest-free extension on the next property tax bill for residential properties severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. This action will help to ease some of the burdens that homeowners are facing in the wake of the storm. The Council will also take action to help all homeowners by codifying a new brochure clarifying property taxes.

In an effort to avert short-term economic damage, the Council will also vote on a resolution calling on Congress and the President to reach an agreement on deficit reduction before the end of the year.

Additionally, the Council will vote to extend the Biotechnology Tax Credit by three years, to approve a zoning text amendment to modify parking requirements for portions of Downtown Brooklyn and to require that new multiple dwellings provide adequate space to sort and store designated recyclable materials.

Property Tax Grace Period

Today, the Council will vote to issue an interest-free extension on the next property tax bill for homeowners whose properties were damaged beyond repair or are in need of major repairs due to Hurricane Sandy. The grace period will postpone payments due on January 1, 2013 to April 1, 2013. The extension will apply to Class 1 and 2 residential properties that received a red tag from the Department of Buildings, meaning they require extensive structural repairs before they can be re-inhabited or must be demolished.

About 3,000 properties are eligible for the extension, and the average property tax bill is $506.

“Enacting this grace period is one small way we can reassure people who are worried they won’t be able to pay the bill on time, and it’s also going to give them a little bit of extra money,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Working together, we will continue to look for ways to offer relief and support to New Yorkers impacted by Sandy. I want to thank Council Members Oddo and Ignizio for first proposing this idea, and to the Bloomberg administration for working with us to make it happen.”
Council Member James Oddo said, “We told people impacted by Sandy that we would help them in any way possible. This legislation is the first step in a multi-pronged effort to provide those affected with property tax relief. I look forward to the next step, which will include businesses and rebates for property owners most affected. Thanks to Speaker Quinn for her quick action in making this legislation a reality and for her willingness to work on additional measures.”

“Homeowners impacted by the storm are working hard to rebuild their homes and put their lives back together, but they are facing an uphill battle emotionally and financially. The action taken by the City Council today to offer an interest-free extension on property tax bills for residences damaged by the storm recognizes the challenges these families are facing and offers some relief at a time when it is needed most,” said Council Member Recchia.

Property Tax Brochure

New York City has a very complicated property tax system. Today, the Council will take action to bring greater clarity for the taxpayer by codifying the informational brochure produced by the Department of Finance for Class 1, and a similar one for Class 2.

The bill requires the brochure to explain, among other things, how tax bills are calculated and will describe the dispute process, as well as exemptions and abatements available to property owner.

The Class 1 brochure must be published by January 15, 2013. The Class 2 brochure will be published a year later on January 15, 2014.

Council Member Oddo said, “The city’s property tax system is notoriously confusing and complicated even for those who are immersed in it on a daily basis. For the average New Yorker who does not deal with it except when they receive their bills, making sense of it is exceedingly difficult. That’s why I asked the Department of Finance to create a plain English document describing the process. I am happy they saw the value in doing this. This legislation will permanently codify this requirement into law.”

Fiscal Cliff Resolution

The Council will vote on a resolution calling on President Obama and Congress to reach an agreement on deficit reduction before the end of the year to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The impact of federal spending cuts and tax increases that would go into effect without federal action would be devastating for New York City’s economy and for the City budget. New York City has faced cuts in federal and State aid in the past and has managed them, but the automatic cuts that would take place without an agreement on deficit reduction would be severe.

With this resolution, the Council is urging the President and Congress to do what is necessary to put the federal government on track in a way that does not push the country back into a recession and force working families into poverty through higher taxes while protecting the critical services essential to a strong and healthy society.

“As President Obama and Congress debate the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ in Washington, let’s not lose sight of the real priorities. We cannot risk the long-term health of our economy or push more middle class families and seniors toward poverty. The best thing we can do to reduce our national debt is to invest in an economy and a country that works for all Americans,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

Biotechnology Tax Credit

The Council will vote to extend the Biotechnology Tax Credit until December 31, 2015.

New York City is perfectly positioned to be a leading center for biotech, with nine world class research institutions, 26 medical centers, 175 hospitals and an unparalleled talent pool. The recent addition of laboratory space at the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences and in BioBAT at the Brooklyn Army Terminal provides approximately 2 million square feet of laboratory space in the City.

Despite these advantages, New York has historically lagged behind other cities, like Boston and San Diego, in the commercialization of new technologies.

The Council worked with the Bloomberg Administration in 2009 to pass legislation in Albany authorizing the tax credit. Since the Biotechnology Tax Credit was initially authorized, the number of jobs in the biotechnology research sector has increased by 11.6 percent, and the number of biotechnology firms has grown by 27 percent.

“The biotech tax credit is providing small companies with water and sunlight to grow in our city. Its success is another step in transforming NYC into a high-tech mecca,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin.

Recycling Space in Buildings

In New York City, currently only 50 percent of the total waste stream and 15 percent of the residential waste stream is recycled. Other cities have surpassed this rate, and the City has set a goal of diverting 75 percent of solid waste from landfills.

One barrier to increasing the residential diversion rate is that many multiple dwellings lack adequate space to store and sort recyclables and waste, creating challenges for residents or superintendents to keep recyclables separated from refuse and stored for weekly collection.

This bill requires that all new multiple dwellings provide a space for the storage of refuse and recyclables. The minimum size of the space is based on the number of units in the building, but is capped at 350 square feet. In multiple dwellings that provide refuse chutes, five square feet will be provided in each refuse chute access room for the temporary holding of recyclables, except where separate chutes are provided for each recyclable material.

This bill would take effect on January 1, 2014.

“Let’s make sure that our building code is consistent with our environmental priorities,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, the bill’s sponsor. “We need to make it as easy as possible for well-intentioned people to recycle in their buildings with as few obstacles as possible.”

Downtown Brooklyn Parking

The Department of City Planning is proposing a zoning text amendment to modify the parking requirements for portions of the Special Downtown Brooklyn District. The proposal would reduce by half the amount of parking that new residential developments are required to provide in this area that features some of the best transit access in the city.

Citing studies showing that many new residential accessory garages are half empty in the evenings, Downtown Brooklyn civic leaders and property owners have called for revising the parking regulations to better match actual demand. The proposed changes were developed in consultation with these stakeholders, community leaders and elected officials.