Despite some admissions of error from the city, and a temporary cap on increases in assessed valuations, co-op officers and elected officials from Eastern Queens who in recent weeks have declared a “tax revolt” aren’t backing down.
Many of you may have read the recent article in The Cooperatorabout this controversy in which a locally-based organization known as the Presidents Co-op Council and its supporters protested skyrocketing increases in assessed valuations that they claimed were unfair.
While most of these increases were less than 10 percent in past years, this year, some of these co-ops received increases of 86 percent, 122 percent, even 147 percent. This meant bad news for residents, since property taxes are based on these assessments, and many of these cooperators are seniors and others living on fixed incomes. Were property taxes to go up, these costs would have to be passed on to the shareholders in the form of steep increases in their monthly maintenance fees.
After two months of meetings, hearings and more agitation that stretched from Glen Oaks to Flushing to Whitestone and from Bayside to Fresh Meadows, the city’s Finance Department first declared that it would cap property-tax increases for all city co-ops at 50 percent for this year only. But after a heated City Council hearing on May 2, where Commissioner David Frankel testified before council members, he conceded that mistakes were made and that overall tax increases should be in the neighborhood of around 10 percent. The City Council announced that they have reached an agreement with the mayor’s administration to cap increases in market values of all co-ops and condos at 10 percent for the next two years, according to Councilman Mark Weprin, D-Queens.
Attorneys Mark Hankin and Geoff Mazel of the law firm of Hankin & Mazel, PLLC have been hired to represent the President’s Council on behalf of the beleaguered Queens co-ops. Speaking informally to this writer at the recent Cooperator Expo, Hankin said that the board presidents and the legal team have spoken to the City Council members, asking them to try to get the Finance Department to lower the assessment increases. At the May 2 public hearing, Commissioner Frankel was grilled by council members seeking answers to the inflated valuations.