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N.Y. Council OKs Property Tax Increase

November 26, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — New York's City Council voted Monday to raise property taxes sharply and slash $844 million in spending to help balance a budget that slipped into the red amid recession and fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks.

By a 41-6 vote, the council approved a somewhat scaled-down version of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan to fight New York's $1.1-billion budget deficit.

The plan passed Monday boosts property taxes 18.49%, compared with 25% under the Bloomberg blueprint, and eliminates a few of Bloomberg's nearly $900 million in proposed cost-saving measures.

Under a compromise reached Friday by Bloomberg and Council Speaker Gifford Miller, eight fire stations and 32 senior centers that had been marked for closure will remain open. But the Fire Department must still cut 50 marshals and 112 civilian jobs, the Police Department must reduce its July 2003 incoming class by 1,900 officers and the Department of Education must make $200 million in cuts. That will result in hundreds more layoffs.

The city still faces a $6.4-billion budget gap for fiscal year 2004, which begins July 1.

Council member Lewis Fidler of Brooklyn said he supported the increase only because it was necessary to help the city recover from last year's attacks.

"The tax increase we are acting on today is a war tax in my view," Fidler said.

Under the plan, the annual tax for a single-family home worth $245,000, currently $1,853, would go up this fiscal year by $171 to $2,024. It would go up next fiscal year to $2,196.

Before the vote, Bloomberg said that he was satisfied with the compromise and that he plans to turn his attention to lobbying the state Legislature. The mayor is seeking the Legislature's approval for a commuter tax on workers who live outside the city, help in paying for teachers' salaries and other aid.

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