Guest op-ed: The property tax disparity in Brooklyn must end

Property taxes are easily one of the top issues affecting our community and other pockets of New York City, and a leading reason why our city has become so unaffordable.

As the system currently exists, low and middle-income New Yorkers are subsidizing the property taxes of those living in the highest valued properties in our city’s most affluent neighborhoods.

It sends the wrong message when the mayor of our city lives in a home valued at $1.7 million and only pays $3,600 in property tax while others are paying twice that for homes valued at half as much.

To use a similarly priced home in Bay Ridge as an example: One of my constituents has a home valued at $1.5 million and is paying $11,000 (nearly triple) in property taxes.

Another resident in my district has a home valued at $369,000 and pays $4,200, still more than our mayor. This is a real ‘Tale of Two Cities’ and one that must be rectified so it is fair, equitable and affordable for all.

Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Canarsie, Brownsville, Flatbush, Mill Basin, Gerritsen Beach, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend, Marine Park, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst are just a few of the neighborhoods in Kings County that suffer by paying double or triple what that their neighbors in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights and Manhattan with much higher property values are paying.

Recently, I announced new legislation that I plan to introduce in the state Assembly to fix the many inequities of our current property tax system.

My bill will ensure that all Class 1 properties are assessed at full market value by removing the amount by which property assessments can increase, so that the trendiest neighborhoods are not safeguarded from paying the same property tax rate as the rest of the city.

If the highest effective tax rate paid in the city is 1.05 percent and the lowest is 0.32 percent, a uniform rate for all should be met in the middle.

Second, the city should consider providing a property tax cap for seniors who are 65 and older, have fixed incomes under $75,000 and have lived in their residence for at least 20 years.

This is primarily a protection for senior citizens living in the more expensive neighborhoods in the city who have seen their property values increase greatly during the 20+ years.

In this case, property taxes would be capped based on a designated percentage of the individual’s income to prevent senior citizens from being forced to sell due to inability to pay their annual property tax bill.

Finally, New York City should be subjected to a two percent cap on its property tax levy, which is the amount of money city government seeks from property taxpayers.

Currently, New York City is one of the few municipalities in the State of New York that does not have a cap on the property tax levy. As a result, we have seen the mayor and City Council increase the property tax levy by a whopping 44 percent to over $27 billion since 2013, placing an incredible burden on New York City citizens.

In addition to homeowners struggling to keep up with this pace, we all know that as property taxes go up, landlords pass that cost on to renters. Rapidly increasing property taxes have made our city unaffordable and are driving our low and middle-income earners to other cities.

Mayor de Blasio’s property tax commission is coming to Brooklyn on October 15. Let’s make sure we get out there and tell the commission that our community should not be subsidizing the property taxes of the city’s most affluent and expensive ones.

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis represents the 64th A.D. in Bay Ridge and Staten Island.

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