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Avella, Co-op and Condo Owners Plea for Passage of Tax Abatements

Senator wants Bloomberg to ensure that city will continue to honor abatements for co-ops and condos if Cuomo does not call Legislature into special session.

State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, joined Queens co-op and condo owners Tuesday to plea with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to address an expired property tax abatement that could leave owners of the units facing exorbitant maintenance fee increases.

The senator had wanted Cuomo to call a special session to renew the tax abatement as well as J-51 tax incentives, which allow co-ops and condos to make upgrades.

But Avella said the governor had indicated that the session would not likely happen before the end of the year and, therefore, he has asked Bloomberg to ensure that the abatement would continue until the Legislature resumes in January.

“For the sake of co-op and condo owners around the city, this integral and important tax abatement needs to be renewed as soon as possible,” Avella said. “If the tax abatement is not extended, it will mean a sharp uptick in costs for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including those on fixed budgets, such as retirees.”

An agreement had been reached in Albany to renew the abatement, but it did not get passed before the legislative session ended.

State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-Jackson Heights, who joined Avella during a press conference Tuesday at Glen Oaks Village, said many of his constituents were scared because they had not been told whether the city would continue to honor the abatements until the Legislature’s next session.

“I hope the governor and the mayor will listen to these pleas,” he said. “We could go up there and pass this bill very quickly. It would give tens of thousands of New Yorkers peace of mind this holiday season.”

In late November, Crain’s New York Business reported that the city would continue to honor the $430 million tax breaks for co-ops and condos, which expired June 30.

But Avella and northeast Queens leaders said they wished the mayor would make an announcement on the matter.

Meanwhile, co-op and condo leaders said they would remain nervous until the abatement and J-51 incentives, which allow for capital improvements and property maintenance, are renewed.

“Failure to pass this will lead to crushing maintenance increases,” said Bob Friedrich, the president of Glen Oaks Village. “It would be a very, very difficult time for these communities.”

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said his “crunching the numbers” concluded that residents at his co-op could face a $100 maintenance increase.

“All that we’re asking for is that everyone put politics aside,” he said. “This is not a Democratic or Republican issue.”

Barry and Iris Nelson, who live in Little Neck’s Valerie Arms, say they are having a difficult time figuring out how to budget this holiday season because they do not know if they will face higher fees in the wake of the expired abatement.

“There are a lot of us on fixed incomes who are worried we’re going to get killed by this,” she said. “If this does not get passed, you’ll see a lot of people who will want to sell their apartments and get out.”

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