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For Immediate Release: Contact:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1994 Corey Bearak
(718) 343-6779


The Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council [NEQJCC] called on Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to support tax equity for owner-occupied housing and oppose increases in property taxes for owner-occupied houses, announced President Corey B. Bearak. In a letter delivered to the Mayor on January 31 at City Hall, NEQJCC President Bearak called on the Mayor to recognize the traditional preference for owner-occupied housing units.

On behalf of the NEQJCC, Bearak presented recommendations previously submitted to the New York City Real Property Tax Reform Commission, which was formed in response to complaints by cooperative shareowners about the City real estate tax system's treatment of cooperative housing units. Bearak wrote: "A sensible solution exists: Treat owner-occupied housing units alike for real estate taxation purposes and create a homestead exemption to ensure that the City's middle class and those less well to do can afford to remain."

"Changes in the City's property tax system which result in higher property taxes for many northeast Queens residents - for example, Class One homeowners - would cause many residents and prospective residents to choose to establish roots in

locations outside the City of New York," warned Bearak, an attorney with experience in state and city government who has written on real estate tax and assessment issues.

Bearak finds an increase in the City's Commuter tax on non-residents, to the extent necessary, the fairest approach to fund any program to extend the existing preference for private homes to owner-occupied cooperative units.

"The Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council, an association of community, educational, fraternal, and religious organizations," said Mr. Bearak, "covers communities which form the City's backbone: Bayside, Bay Terrace, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Hollis Hills, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village. The Council's major projects include neighborhood development, fostering intergroup understanding and building coalitions with other ethnic and religious groups."

Mr. Bearak noted: "Residents in northeast Queens live in one, two and three family homes, cooperatives, condominiums and apartment houses, both garden-style and high-rise. The Council has worked since its inception to maintain Northeast Queens as an attractive place to live and raise a family. Northeast Queens' public elementary, middle and high schools and parochial schools - including a yeshiva, natural parks [without deer tics], health care, and shopping serve as magnets to prospective residents who seek a suburban quality of life within the City's limits."

"New York City a responsibility must avert any property tax increase which would encourage its middle class - including Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics, to leave," Mr. Bearak continued. "A real estate tax increase on owner-occupied housing would result in two New York Cities: the wealthy and the impoverished.

Mr. Bearak said: "The NEQJCC recommends a reformed real property tax system which discriminates between owner-occupied housing units and those rented for profit. Under this reform proposal, houses with illegal units or illegal offices would not qualify for the proposed

preference for owner occupied housing units. In addition, a homestead exemption for owner-occupied housing units should be applied to ensure the affordability of middle class housing for the City's middle class. Similar treatment should also be afforded legally built and maintained rental units. This latter proposal should encourage developers to build more affordable housing."

"Taxing Class One properties illegally occupied for retail or office uses would increase revenues and/ or encourage those business to relocate to nearby neighborhood commercial strips, which often have many available storefronts," observed Mr. Bearak.

"Existing programs recognize the stability that long-term residents contribute to our neighborhoods," noted Mr. Bearak. "The City's real estate tax exemption and rent increase exemption programs for our seniors offer compelling precedents to institutionalize the City's current treatment of Class One properties for owner-occupied housing units, with limited exceptions."

"The NEQJCC supports tax equity for owner occupied housing by decreasing taxes for owner-occupied coops and condos to the level now borne by Class One housing," concluded Mr. Bearak. "To fund this program, the NEQJCC recommends the City improve its operational efficiency and, to the extent necessary, the State Legislature authorize an increase in the City's non-resident income tax, commonly called the commuter tax."

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