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Cuomo, Silver pledge to halt co-op tax hikes

State Sen. Tony Avella (second from r.) joins with heads of the Presidents Co-Op/Condo Council Warren Schreiber (l.) and Bob Friedrich (second from l.) to protest any drastic tax hikes. Photo courtesy Tony Avella
TimesLedger Newspapers

Co-op and condo owners need not worry about any drastic tax increases because Gov. Andrew Cuomo has committed to their cause, lawmakers said Monday.

In a statement, state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) would pass a measure authorizing retroactive tax relief.

“It is reassuring to receive a commitment from the governor and the speaker to pass an extension retroactively,” Braunstein said. “I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and Speaker Silver for their leadership on this issue.”

Earlier this year, the state Legislature failed to extend the J-51 program, which provided co-op and condo owners with millions of dollars in tax abatements to help maintain and upgrade properties. The program officially ended June 30, but lawmakers said agreements were in place to pass a new plan.

In response to the concern, lawmakers throughout northeast Queens spoke out against any sudden tax increases for co-op and condo owners, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens). Ultimately, the governor’s acknowledgement of their concerns brought relief to elected officials in the borough.

“I appreciate the governor and speaker’s support for the co-op shareholders and condo unit owners,” Stavisky said. “People are terrified that their maintenance fees will increase and their strong statement should allay these fears. While nothing is ever absolute in Albany, the governor and speaker have given their commitment to resolving this problem and I thank them.”

The Senate and Assembly ended their respective legislative sessions in June without extending co-op tax abatement for another four years, Stavisky said, but expressed intentions to return for a special session after the November elections.

Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, however, Cuomo decided against any special session, sending co-op and condo owners into a frenzy.

But after a public outcry, both the governor and Assembly speaker announced their commitment to the retroactive tax abatement. According to Cuomo, the tax abatement will be retroactive when the legislation is signed into law, and co-op owners will not see any changes to their payments.

“At the end of session we reached an agreement on a comprehensive bill that will cut taxes for the vast majority of condo and co-op owners who pay a disproportionate share of the city’s property tax burden,” Silver said. “The city has indicated that it will issue tax bills based on these new tax rates, and we will pass the bill when we return to Albany.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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