City Council votes to hike property taxes by 7 percent
The City Council Thursday night voted to raise property taxes by 7 percent, part of a package of budget measures aimed at cutting a projected $1.2 billion deficit over the next year and half.
The mayors office also agreed to release the $400 property tax rebates it had resisted sending out, ending a standoff with council members who insisted the administration was legally obligated to mail the checks.Critics blasted the tax plans as a bad deal for homeowners and a burden on citizens still reeling from a slew of new taxes announced this week by Gov. David Paterson.
The people have been taxed enough, said Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). Its like, heres your $400 and now youre going to give it right back because you have a 7 percent tax hike.
The average homeowner will see an increase of about $118 for the remaining six months of the fiscal year. The increase will raise about $600 million, city officials said.
Supporters of the tax hike, which passed 33-18, said it was necessary to plug a gap that has only grown as the economy has soured.
Nobody wants to vote on property tax increases, said Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), the chairman of the Finance Committee. This is the responsible thing to do.
Also Thursday, Bloomberg announced Julys police class would be cut to 250 from about 1,000 cadets, and that Januarys class, which the administration initially sought to cancel, will also be 250.
Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said that combined with attrition, the cuts will mean a force of about 33,000, the lowest level since 1991.
Our residents should be very afraid, he said. These cuts will absolutely result in more crime.
Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the department had shown it could keep crime down with fewer officers.
The police department has a proven ability to do more with less, said LaVorgna, who did not address the figures Vallone cited.
The council also voted to increase the hotel tax by 0.876 percent, raising the average $300 room rate by an extra $2.62 per night.