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Co-op Leaders Mull Litigation Over Property Tax Assessments

Area elected officials to join cooperative board presidents in potential lawsuit against city

As protests roiled the Middle East and states like Wisconsin and Indiana, a mix of elected leaders and area residents much closer to home planned a revolt of their own.

In this case however, the rallying cry wasn't about basic freedoms or union rights.

Instead, at a meeting of the Presidents Co-op Council last Wednesday, the furor was all about taxes — a subject that united elected officials and area residents of all political persuasions, friend and foe alike.

"It doesn't matter if you're a Republican, Democrat or Independent. We're all together on this," said Glen Oaks Village president Bob Friedrich, who joined two former political opponents, Councilman Mark Weprin and Assemblyman David Weprin, to call for possible litigation against the city over  for many Queens cooperative and condominium buildings.

In the case of Glen Oaks Village, the increases will result in the cooperative association paying 86 percent more in city property taxes in 2011 over last year — despite the fact that market values for units in many buildings throughout Queens were stuck in neutral, or in some cases, in reverse.

“These assessments are simply devoid of any economic reality,” Friedrich said. “It’s an 'Alice In Wonderland' world where values are declining and assess property tax valuation are going up.”

It's a matter that now might be heading to court.

All of the elected officials present last Wednesday agreed to add their names to any future litigation, according to Friedrich. Among those in attendance included Mark Weprin, D-Oakland Gardens, , D-Little Neck, state Sen. Toby Stavisky, D-Flushing and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, D-Bayside.

Also on the table was a letter writing campaign and possible legislation capping tax assessments on co-ops, among other proposals.

"Last night was a great start and I feel that momentum is present, but there
is much more work to be done," wrote Stavisky to co-op presidents after the meeting.

Despite the prospect of legislative remedies and an approaching deadline of March 3 on tax assessment appeals with the city Department of Finance, a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the hardest-hit Queens co-op buildings seemed more and more likely.

Friedrich said he took issue not only with assessments he called "arbitrary and capricious," but the appeals process as well.

"Even if we're offered a reduction resulting in an decrease from 86 percent to 50 percent ... the starting point is still so high that our residents won't accept it," he said. 

Arthur J caputo February 27, 2011 at 12:32 PM
It's a disgrace what's happening to our government . trying to rip us ,the taxpayers, off for the corrupt, incompetent actions causing this financial mess.looking for anything to fleece us of our hard earned money. Sue them, and check the books let them go to WallSt to bail them out or the bnanks and corporations whom this government subsidizes. Get a windfall, profits tax on the oil companies for their ripoff, obscene profits.Looking for any excuse to raise gas prices to increase the rich stock dividends at the expense of the middle class.A disgrace and an outrage.Enough is enough.Go elsewhere for your money.We didn't cause this mess.
Warren Schreiber February 27, 2011 at 03:36 PM
It's been a while since the Co-op/Condo community had a credible organization to speak as one voice and advocate on their behalf. The last group claiming to represent co-ops/condos actually did just the opposite. Co-ops and Condos were exploited by this so called federation whose main focus was the marketing of goods and services for their own self-serving purposes. This void has now been filled by the Presidents Co-op Council (PCC) which began in 2007 as an email discussion group among co-op and condo presidents. Since it's humble beginnings the PCC now has 42 member properties, representing in excess of 20,000 co-op/condo units, housing more than 50,000 residents and still growing. The PCC has been recognized as a force to be reckoned with in the battle to preserve New York City's dwindling stock of middle class housing. I am proud to be part of the PCC and humbled to be aligned with so many dedicated, hard working volunteer co-op and condo board members Warren Schreiber President, Bay Terrace Cooperative Section I, Inc. President, Bay Terrace Community Alliance, Inc.
Mike March 11, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Public is dysfunction, that's how politicans get away with taxes, and taxes, and taxes.
jerry k April 06, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Mr. Mike, in one sentence you summed it up. Thats why i'm getting out of N.Y. in another year when I retire. Hope to find a state where the public are more fuctional.

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