Co-op and condo buildings can often seem like their own little self-contained worlds, with drama, politics, and debates aplenty. Given that, it's understandable why shareholder/owners might think the people who run their building—the board members, management companies, and special committees—make all the building decisions that in turn influence the lives of residents.
In reality, however, there are other forces at work that make many of the most important decisions that affect all homeowners, including condo and co-op residents. Unfortunately, few shareholder/owners know who represents them in their state Assembly and Senate. And even fewer know who serves on the committees that debate and pass laws that can have a big impact on their lives and homes.
People should know who represents them in these matters and how to contact them. Both the state assembly and senate members have websites (assembly.state.ny.us and senate.state.ny.us, respectively) with updates on bills and hearings that can have a great effect on condo and co-op owners' lives. You can also learn who represents you and how to contact them. Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin serves as chairperson of the state Assembly's Real Property Taxation committee. He was elected to the state Legislature in 1992 and represents the 25th district, which includes Flushing, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows, Flushing Heights, Briarwood, Kew Garden Hills, Jamaica, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. His bio on the Assembly website lists his legislative priorities as criminal justice reform, quality of life, consumer protection, housing, programs and services for senior citizens, and rebuilding New York's infrastructure in order to promote economic and job growth.
Among the issues McLaughlin's committee has examined this year that could affect condo and co-op owners are increases in real tax property assessments placed on renovated and rehabilitated residential homes in New York City. A hearing in April 2005 was held, seeking proposals that might offer some relief to residents whose property class changed because of renovation and resulted in a substantial property tax increase. Among the questions the hearing addressed were what administrative assessment procedures resulted in surges, whether homeowners received assistance from the government when renovating, if property owners were informed of these increases, and what state or local legislation could be introduced that would reduce these changes.