A group of northeast Queens cooperative and condo associations rejected a deal announced this week with the city Department of Finance to limit year-to-year tax assessment increases for multiple-home dwellings at 50 percent.
"The DOF cap of 50 percent does not offer meaningful relief to already over-burdened middle class cooperators," the Presidents Co-op Council said in a statement on Wednesday.
However, the group, which includes and Country Neck Estates in Little Neck, hinted at a possible opening for further negotiations between co-op and condo owners hit hard by price declines for their units and a cash-strapped city looking to have tax assessments fall more in line with market values.
"A cap of 50 percent is a good start but falls far short of a final resolution," the statement read.
Announced after a meeting with Councilman Mark Weprin, D-Oakland Gardens, Council Finance Chair Domenic Recchia and DOF Commissioner David Frankel, the deal to cap tax valuations was largely an acknowledgement by the city that the — which for some co-op buildings was as high as 147 percent —presented an undue burden for many homeowners.
Co-op and condo presidents warn that any increase in property taxes would be passed along to residents in the form of higher monthly maintenance fees, which would likely impact those with fixed incomes, such as seniors, the most.
"While I appreciate DOF's recognition that the initial assessments could not stand, a 50 percent hike is still unreasonable," Weprin said.
Soon after the assessments for the coming tax year were mailed out last month, state senators Toby Stavisky, D-Flushing, and Tony Avella, D-Bayside, held a press conference outside a co-op building in Bay Terrace calling on the City Council to institute a moratorium on valuation increases.
Stavisky, a shareholder in the Whitestone Cooperative, wrote in a letter to Frankel dated Feb. 2 that she felt that the city's tax classification system unfairly targeted co-op and condo buildings.
Walter Mugdan, president of The Westmoreland Association, a group of detached single-family homes in Little Neck, said last month he had not heard of any significant year-to-year tax assessment increases among his membership.
From tax year 2010-11 to 2011-12, the city's estimate of the market value of Queens went up by 32.4 percent, with average tax bills going up by 12.5 percent for an average increase of $292, according to a Jan. 15 report in the Wall Street Journal.
At the same time, owners of single-family homes across the city faced an average assessment hike of 2.8 percent.
The Presidents Co-op Council to mull over litigation against DOF to roll back the increases, with several elected officials, including Stavisky and Weprin, agreeing to sign onto any future lawsuit against the city.
"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," said Glen Oaks Village president Bob Friedrich at last month's meeting.