Brooklyn Heights

Co-op, condo advocates sound alarm about inaction on tax abatement

April 20, 2015 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The co-op building at 45 Grace Court in Brooklyn Heights. Photo: Map data ©2015 Google
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Many Brooklyn co-op and condo residents, like those elsewhere in the city, are concerned about the possible sunset of a legislative measure that, once it ends, could lead to a substantial increase in maintenance charges.

Paula Fichtner, a co-op board member at 45 Grace Court, recently became aware, through the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums (CNYC), that a citywide property tax rebate, or abatement, that has been given to co-ops and condos since 1993 is set to expire on June 30.

While earlier extensions to the original measure were routinely passed, Fichtner and co-op and condo advocates are concerned that the state Assembly seems to be sitting on the issue.

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“The NY State Assembly has not yet moved on a bill to restore the abatement, and gives no sign of being ready to do so,” Fichtner said in an email.

The abatement originally passed as a temporary statute in response to the difference in property taxes on Class One homes (which include single, two-family and three-family houses) and Class Two homes (which include co-ops and condos and rentals in homes with more than four units). Class One homes have typically paid about one-third of the taxes that co-op and condo owners have paid on their units.

“In our building alone, we estimate that we would have $36,000 more in taxes [if the abatement is not passed],” says Fichtner. She added that one possible cause of the legislative inaction may be the fact that former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver always pushed renewal of the abatement, while new Speaker Carl Heastie apparently hasn’t put it on the front burner “even though he grew up in Co-op City.”

According to the city Finance Department’s website, abatement percentages are 28.1 percent for units with an average assessed value of $50,000 or less; 25.2 percent for units worth $50,001 to $55,000; 22.5 percent between $55,001 to $60,000; and 17.5 percent for $60,001 and above.

Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of CNYC, said, “The issue is extremely important. We’ve gotten most of the extensions over 17 years, and we are working hard to get this one.”

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, whose district stretches from the South Slope to Vinegar Hill, said she hasn’t heard any talk in Albany about the co-op and condo tax abatement extension. “Everyone’s very occupied with the budget right now,” she said. Nevertheless, she added, the issue could be on the agenda in June.

David Grillo, account executive with the management firm Gumley Half in charge of 75 Henry St., a large Brooklyn Heights co-op building, said in his opinion, the problems in Albany are “just politics.” He feels that an extension will definitely pass.

A search of the “Bill Search” feature in the Assembly’s website, using the terms “cooperatives,” “co-ops,” “condos,” “tax abatement,” “tax rebate” and “condominiums,” didn’t turn up any bill on the subject.


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