Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg released a budget that calls for closing 20 firehouses, senior centers and layoffs for over 6,000 NYC public school teachers. The New York Times called this a “good news” budget! Another headline stated that New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez was buying a new condominium at The Rushmore on the Upper West Side. The condo is selling for a reported six million dollars. ARod made 33 million dollars last year, 9 million dollars more than the second highest paid player in major league baseball. So you may be wondering where am I going with this. When I checked out The Rushmore I discovered that they are a recipient of a 421a tax abatement. A look at the Corcoran website that is offering units at The Rushmore, shows ARod’s six million dollar condo pays about $103 a month in property tax or $1,236 a year.
I am a homeowner who pays more in property tax on my one-family, 112-year-old home. The 421a program is a topic of great debate since it expired in December 2010. The REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) has been lobbying for a return to the old program that requires no affordable housing to be built in return for this abatement that can last up to 25 years. The Independent Budget Office said in a recent New York Times article that the 421a program will cost a projected 930 million dollars in forgone tax revenues this year.
Just think what we could do with an additional 930 million dollars. We could save teachers, senior centers and firehouses, and have cash left over to build affordable housing. I’m certain that not-for-profits would do a better job than private developers at building affordable housing and they would do it for considerably less money.
It’s time to let the 421a program expire. It sickens me when Bloomberg threatens the safety of our children and seniors by reducing staffing on engine companies and then threatening to close 20 additional firehouses and senior centers. Cutting teaching jobs that will increase class size while refusing to increase taxes on the wealthiest NYC residents. By ending the 421a program we can begin to collect the property taxes we need to keep the city running in tough financial times.