Heads in Sand

$445 million in tax breaks for co-ops and condos will expire June 30th because the State Legislature adjourned for the summer last night without extending them — but no one will pay the bill for now. The Department of Finance sent out July tax bills assuming the credits would be extended. Negotiations in Albany broke down over City efforts to limit the breaks to subsidized housing, with State Legislators facing re-election reluctant to effectively raise taxes on the unsubsidized middle class. Instead, everyone seems to be sticking their heads in the sand until November.  Of course, if the City tries to collect the tax, thousands of mortgages will go into default and nearly every co-op will face emergency assessments.

The Legislature also failed to renew J51 tax benefits that expired last year, threatening the financing of millions of dollars of ongoing renovations that anticipated assistance. Again, the issue is whether the breaks should be limited  to subsidized housing. The head in the sand approach prevailed again.

Back in the City last night, the Rent Guidelines Board managed to approve new rent guidelines of 2 percent (or at least $20) and 4 percent (or at least $40) for one and two year stabilized leases, effective October 1st.  The minimums will affect all leases under $1,000. The official order will be posted here.

Development may be becoming less affordable, but the City is taking steps to make it faster. Effective July 2nd, City Planning is rolling out the BluePRint process to expedite precertification of projects that require discretionary action by the Planning Department and City Council.

And this week the Buildings Department began using new Plan Examination Guidelines to vet requests for plan examination meetings in Queens. The idea is to make sure everything is ready for the meeting ahead of time. The approach is expected to go citywide in August.

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