UPDATE: Feb. 24, 11:30 a.m.: The office of Councilman Mark Weprin, D-Oakland Gardens, has filed a state Freedom of Information request to the Department of Finance on a 15- percent property tax hike for cooperatives that northeast Queens' elected officials say was caused by the city's assessment valuations.
Weprin said he previously wrote a letter to the agency in which he asked for a reevaluation of the city's method for calculating real property taxes for co-ops.
"Some Queens co-ops have seen their market values increase 50 to 150 percent this year, according to the Department of Finance," the councilman said. "An increase of that magnitude in one year suggests a severe flaw in the system."
He said co-ops collect funds for real property tax increases through higher maintenance fees for shareholders.
Northeast Queens' state Senators had recently blasted the city’s proposed assessment valuations for cooperatives in their districts, saying that property taxes at co-ops have risen exponentially as a result.
State Sens. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, and Toby Stavisky, D-Whitestone, joined a group of co-op board presidents in Bayside earlier this month to slam the assessed valuations.
“The New York City Department of Finance is experiencing a clear disconnect between their assessed valuations and the true market value of co-ops throughout Queens,” Avella said. “Obviously, there should be some correlation between the two. It’s a sad commentary when the working class and seniors citizens in this city can’t afford to stay in their homes because of the skyrocketing property taxes caused by these assessed valuations, yet they cannot sell their homes either because of the low market value.”
Property taxes are based on the assessed valuations of homes, co-ops and other buildings.
Stavisky said the market valuations at some northeast Queens co-ops have been steep. The valuation for Whitestone’s Cryder Point co-op went up 147 percent, while Flushing’s Mitchell Gardens rose more than 113 percent.
Bay Terrace’s valuation shot up to as much as 95 percent, while Windsor Park went up 65 percent. In addition, Bayside’s Bell Apartment, Bay Country and Bell Owners all rose 54 percent.
“The city estimates that the market value of Queens’ cooperatives went up by nearly one-third,” Stavisky said. “People are selling their co-ops for less than they sold for several years ago when prices were higher. How can you justify assessment increases of greater than 50 percent when sale prices are down?”
Co-op board presidents said the assessed valuations could force residents to move out of their homes.
“This is middle class housing,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “It represents the last bastion of affordable housing in New York City. But, we’re always under assault. This is a backdoor tax.”
Arlene Fleishman, of the Mitchell Linden Civic Association, said her building’s real estate taxes are an estimated $400,000 per year. The costs are split up among the co-op’s 181 units.
“Seniors are so hard pressed,” she said. “This has got to stop. We can’t afford it.”
Co-op owners can contact the Department of Finance to appeal their new assessments by March 1.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the city expects to bring in $900 million in revenue as a result of new assessments of all property types throughout the five boroughs.