(New York, NY) — Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed $89.06 billion budget includes a spending increase of $4 billion targeted at education and labor, and comes amid calls by the City Council for an upward of $400 million in property tax refunds to mainly alleviate stress on middle and lower class homeowners.
In his Thursday, April 26 remarks to reporters, de Blasio, a Democrat, was faced with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s challenge that if the mayor were in fact committed to the city, he would consider those homeowners’ needs.
The repeated mentions of property tax refunds on Thursday largely yielded dodgy responses by de Blasio, who said he would argue the best way to address the property tax question is to “fix the whole system.”
“Everyone loves a rebate; but it doesn’t fix the root cause,” de Blasio said. “We want to get at the root cause.”
A joint statement by Johnson, Finance Chair Daniel Dromm, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Budget Vanessa Gibson, voiced displeasure with the fact that, in their view, de Blasio’s proposed budget does not address all the priorities laid out by the city council.
“The administration should use this additional revenue to institute Fair Fares to help our most vulnerable neighbors, fund a $400 property tax rebate for middle class homeowners, and put away $500 million in reserves to strengthen our financial position moving forward and increase our ability to weather future shocks,” they said in the statement.
Though, Johnson, Dromm and Gibson said they were “encouraged by the close to $1 billion in additional revenue expected in FY18.”
“When combined with the efficiencies and savings the Council has already found in our FY19 budget response, this revenue has the potential to go a long way toward our goals of strengthening the social safety net, fighting for the middle class, and being responsible with taxpayer money,” they said in the statement.
In the 2017-18 Tax Year, property taxes in the city stood at 20 percent for upper class property owners, around 12 percent for the middle class, and 10 percent for the lower class.
In his 2017 campaign, de Blasio laid out his intentions of forming a property tax commission as part of his promise to enact systematic reform. A year later, that commission still has not been assembled, though de Blasio again referred to it in his Thursday remarks.
“We’re going to, most importantly, go at the heart of the property tax problem and have a commission, working closely with the Council to try and reform, fundamentally, the property tax to be more fair for everyone,” he said.