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Dyker homeowners seek Cuomo’s help to lower property taxes

Carl Esposito’s property tax bill is going to be $9,600 this year. And he’s not happy about it.

“It went up $1,200 from last year,” he said. Esposito, a resident of 64th Street in Dyker Heights, said his parents paid $35,000 when they bought the three-family house in 1961. Today, the home is worth much more than that. But he doesn’t feel rich.

“I’m lucky the house is paid for and I don’t have a mortgage. Otherwise, I don’t know what I’d do,” he said.

Esposito was one of a small group of homeowners who joined Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis at a Feb. 1 press conference in which the Republican lawmaker called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to impose a mandate to bring New York City in line with other cities around the state where property tax levy increases are capped at two percent annually.

Under a 2011 state law, cities around the state are prohibited from raising property tax levies more than two percent each year. New York City was not included in the law. “We want to be part of that cap,” said Malliotakis, whose Assembly district includes parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island.

Unless there is legislative remedy, the only way for New York City to be included in the two percent cap is for the governor to impose it as a mandate, according to Malliotakis.

A property tax levy is not the same thing as a property tax, but Malliotakis said putting a cap on the tax levy should help Brooklyn residents like Esposito.

“This is a very serious issue. The average New Yorker can’t afford to live here anymore,” Malliotakis said as she stood at a podium in Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church Hall at 1072 80th St. alongside homeowners holding signs reading “The property taxes are too damn high” and “I’m not an ATM.”

A property tax is the tax that is paid to the city by people who own real estate in that city.  The tax levy, on the other hand, is the total amount in dollars that a city plans to collect from property owners. A city usually determines a property tax levy after factoring other sources of income into its budget.

Bob Cassara, who has lived in Dyker Heights all of his life and who purchased a one-family home on Bay Ridge Parkway for $110,000 back in 1983, said he is considering leaving the city. “They keep jacking the taxes up,’ he said.

Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, said property taxes are particularly burdensome in her community. “Dyker Heights is a community that is filled with working class and middle class homeowners. The tax is choking homeowners. They’re having problems surviving,” she said.

High property taxes also hurt apartment renters, Malliotakis said. “The cost is passed onto you in the form of rent increases,” she said.

The property tax levy in New York City has gone up a whopping 44 percent over the past five years, Malliotakis said. “This year, the city increased it by eight percent,” she added.

When the city budget is increased, the city needs more revenue and raises the property tax levy to get it, Malliotakis said.

The reason she is seeking a mandate from Cuomo is because, “We cannot trust Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to do the right thing,” she said.

Adding to the frustration is the complicated way property taxes are assessed, according to those attending the press conference.

New York City uses fractional assessments, a system that allows homeowners in affluent neighborhoods like Park Slope to pay less than people living in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights who own similar properties.

“There is such a disparity. The mayor’s property tax bill is $4,500 for a house worth $1 million,” said Malliotakis, who ran against de Blasio for mayor in 2017 and lost.

While Brooklyn homeowners lament the amount of money they have pay, studies have shown that, relatively speaking, property taxes aren’t all that high here.

Brooklyn has an effective property tax rate of 0.65 percent, less than half the state average, according to SmartAsset.com.

Cuomo’s office did not return messages from this newspaper.

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