Mayor de Blasio Holds Press Availability Regarding Sandy Property Tax Relief Legislation
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Mayor de Blasio Holds Press Availability Regarding Sandy Property Tax Relief Legislation

I just want to first say, I’m thrilled to
be joined by Dan Zarrilli, who’s running our recovery and resiliency office, and Sherif
Soliman, who runs the legislative office for the city of New York in Albany. Let me just
say up front that it was very gratifying today to be here for the awards ceremony, for the
projects from Staten Island, and from southern Brooklyn. These are areas I’ve spent a lot
of time in since Sandy hit. I think community leaders are really putting together great
ideas for recovery and resiliency, and I was thrilled to see this additional support. Going
to them, I was also thrilled to hear the really innovative ideas coming out of the Rockaways,
coming out of Red Hook, things I’ll certainly be following up on. And I want to say, especially, one of my chief
reasons for being here today was to promote the property tax relief legislation that we’re
putting forward for homeowners who have rebuilt – who were devastated by Sandy, have rebuilt
– and we want to make sure will not be penalized because they were able, over a year and a
half, to finally get themselves back on their feet. We don’t want to have them hit with
yet another challenge of a sudden increase in their property tax bill – really appreciate
Governor Cuomo’s support for that legislation, appreciate support we’re getting, bi-partisan
support, throughout the legislature. We’re very very optimistic that that legislation
will pass in the near term. So, this is something that’s going to be important for a lot of
New Yorkers who are finally getting back on their feet after Sandy. With that, can I take questions first on anything
Sandy-related, and then we’ll be happy to do any other topics. [Reporter] [inaudible] Thank you. [Reporter] [inaudible] Yes. [Reporter] [inaudible] Well, it’s for folks who have now rebuilt,
and because of the rebuilding, their assessment would go up, and therefore their property
tax would go up. In other words, the property would be treated, under current tax law, as
an improved property, a more valuable property – bang! They’d be hit with a tax increase.
We want to make sure that doesn’t happen. Folks who have finally gotten their homes
back together did it after immense struggle, and in most cases, immense personal expense,
and we want to make sure they’re not set back yet again. So, this legislation would give
them immediate relief. Again, we are very appreciative of the support of the governor’s,
crucial support of the legislative leaders has been very generous and quick in coming.
So, we feel very good about getting this passed quickly so that we can get relief to people
right away. [Reporter] [inaudible] I’m sorry, again? [Reporter] [inaudible] It’s drafted. We’re working out the final
arrangements for introduction and sponsorship, and that will be happening in the coming days. [Reporter] [inaudible] First of all, I want to say – I’ve been
talking constantly to folks at HUD, my staff has been talking constantly – this is a,
literally a day-to-day relationship. We’re constantly in touch on a variety of things
we’re doing together. Now, I think some of the press reports have portrayed the possibility
of a change in policy, but there really has not been a change yet. There’s not – we’ve
very carefully discussed this with HUD, we’ve looked at what they’ve said formally – there
has not been a change. What I said the other day, I stand by. I think it’s self-evident
that the original legislation was meant to provide assistance to people in New York State
and New Jersey who were devastated by Sandy, and then aid the resiliency efforts going
forward. I think that’s self-evident. I think that’s what’s ultimately going to determine
the outcomes, and I feel good about where it’s going. But most importantly, I don’t
want to ever say that HUD took a step when they didn’t take it. HUD, in our working with
them, has been entirely supportive and cooperative. Anything else on the tax plan, or anything
else on Sandy? [Reporter] [inaudible] Let me speak carefully, because, I – you
know, I think it’s important when there’s a lot of moving parts to not overstate. I
feel very optimistic about this legislation being passed. Certainly in this immediate
legislative session, meaning by the end of June at latest. I’m hopeful, you know, for
the soonest possible date. And I think the kind of support we’ve seen so far suggests
we have a good shot at an early date. We’re going to immediately then act to amend the
property tax bills for those individuals. But either way you slice it, the same amount
of money will be returned to their hands, regardless of whether the legislation were
passed in May or June, the same amount of money will be refunded to the individual homeowners. [Reporter] [inaudible] This is for the city of New York only, and,
you know, we think it’s crucial, considering how many people had their homes destroyed
in New York City. [Reporter] [inaudible] Well, we’re starting with one year, and then
we’ll come back around at the end of that time frame and see where things are. [Reporter] [inaudible] No, I’m not familiar with it, so I’ll just
be careful about not commenting on something I don’t know the details of. [Reporter] [inaudible] I’ve just heard of it. I haven’t seen the
memo, I haven’t seen the details. Look, my position has been historically that I think
there’s areas that need immediate reform. I supported the legislation, I know the governor
supported it intensely – to no longer have a criminal penalty for the display of a small
amount of marijuana. I think that’s a common sense change we have to make. Certainly, our
focus has been, Commissioner Bratton’s focus has been, is going after serious crime, and
we’ve moved away from some of the policies that I think were unfortunately creating a
rift between police and community, but also taking a lot of time and energy away from
addressing serious crime –obviously the reforms we’ve made in stop and frisk in other
areas. So, I need to see the details. I think the district attorney has some of the same
concerns that I have and Commissioner Bratton have about the history here, but before I
comment on the details in his proposal, I’d have to see the actual memo. [Reporter] [inaudible] Well, I – life is long. And so what I’d
say is, first of all, the governor and I – as I mentioned in the session – you know, in
about a year, it’ll be 20 years of knowing each other, working with each other, we talk
all the time. It’s a – you know, when you have a relationship of that depth and history,
it doesn’t matter if sometimes you disagree. There’s plenty more things you agree on. He’s
been very willing to be helpful on the property tax relief. He’s been very supportive in terms
of the speed cameras and a number of other areas. So, I feel very good about the working
relationship, very good about our communication, the consistency of our communication. Look,
I’ve said that when you look at everything that came out of the budget process, I feel
great about what we were able to achieve for New York City, you know, with the governor’s
help. And it didn’t matter if there were some differences along the way. In the end, the
funding is there for pre-k. The preventative measures for – to stop homelessness are
being moved. The rent cap for HIV and AIDS, which is a crucial initiative for us – all
of those people happen more happening now – so from my point of view, I always say
the product is what you really need to measure by, but in terms of product, this relationship’s
in a very good place. [Reporter] [inaudible] You know, the – and I have to tell you,
the, the attempts to stereotype the way any individual thinks, that bothers me for a lot
of people, whether it’s about me or about anyone else. I said – I’ve spoken very,
very publicly on this. I said I used to believe that the horse carriages were a New York City
tradition, and they should be kept just the way they were. This is going back, you know,
six years. And, I talked to folks who represented the animals rights movements – movement,
when I was in the City Council, even before I was Public Advocate, and they would constantly
make the point that what these horses experienced, you know, the whole concept of what a more
humane society should be, and little by little, I started to feel that my previous position
had been wrong. And I have articulated that trajectory all along. So, I have to tell you,
when this debate comes up, and I say to people, just think for a moment – what are horses
doing in the middle of Manhattan traffic. Midtown Manhattan traffic. Is that really
the best way to go about things? Is that a humane reality for those horses? Is that good
for anyone? You know, I don’t have a lot of people arguing with me on that. I understand
some people have an industry that they want to defend, but on the common sense issue – should
we have horses working in the middle of Manhattan traffic – I think it’s pretty evident
we shouldn’t. As I said that is something I came to my views on long before this last
campaign, and long before anyone donated to the campaign. [Reporter] [inaudible] You know, it’s continuity with the things
we’ve talked about before. We have a profound fiscal challenge. The part of it that was
missed, I think, in a lot of the civic discourse – and I talked about it the day we did the
preliminary budget – is this city government has had a structural deficit year after year.
Each time enough money came out of the previous year to keep the year ahead solvent but it
wasn’t a true balance. A true balance is when you have enough revenue coming in in
a given year to pay your expenses. We haven’t had that for a long time. We don’t have
that projected going forward. Fiscal 16, for example, already has a $1 billion running
deficit. So, that is the first problem – a structural deficit over years. Second, we
know there’s a lot of unpredictable realities with the federal government, a lot of challenges,
some of which are going to be felt in the coming years because of some of the big changes
that have happened on the federal level. And so what I’ve said about the labor negotiations
is – one, of course it’s private – the details are private and respectful – but
that the only way we address some of the concerns raised by our partners in municipal labor
is if we find cost savings. And that’s been very clear throughout the process. So, anything
that any individual union wants to achieve has to come with substantial cost savings
attached. [Reporter] [inaudible] Yeah, go ahead [inaudible]. [Reporter] [inaudible] It’s abundantly clear that the – take
the whole package – retro, some of the raises that have been asked for going forward and
other things. Right now, we’re in a structural deficit with our current – our current – staffing
dynamics. So if you’re going to add to them, by definition, it would only mean a bigger
deficit. So by definition, you have to find cost savings. Questions: [inaudible] Whoa, whoa – one at a time. Let’s do that. [Reporter] [inaudible] Yeah. [Reporter] [inaudible] Well, on the school lunches, I believe the
goal is the right one. There’s a couple of wrinkles here. One – we – as we looked
into this further – our concern that it may have a boomerang effect in terms of denying
us a certain amount of federal funding. So we need to understand what the economics are
and we’re working on that right now. We’ve been very with the advocate, so that’s an
open question that, until we resolve it, we can’t move forward. Second – let’s say
that problem was resolved favorably – it’s still a major expenditure. It’s a good thing
to invest in, but it’s a major expenditure. The problem is, you know, we are two weeks
away now from the executive budget. A lot of things have to be resolved. We’re going
to have to make a series of tough choices. In some cases, we’re going to be able to
focus and prioritize some things. Other things will have to be phased in over time. You know,
some things are going to move fast, some things are going to have to wait. That whole discussion
will be laid out on May 8. But in the meantime, we have to understand better these federal
funding dynamics. [Reporter] [inaudible] Please, yeah, the – look, I’ve felt this
for a while. I’ve been asked about it many times, you can imagine. In the entire 2013
campaign this question came up many many times. I think with the force we have right now,
we’re doing a great job. I give tremendous respect to the men and women of the NYPD and
of course to Commissioner Bratton. They’re doing an extraordinary job. Crime remains
low. And let me give them additional credit for continuing the healing process between
police and community. So the resources we have now are getting the job done. And we’re
in a structural deficit. So I am not in the business of adding to that deficit when I
believe we can get the job done with the resources and personnel we have now. Thanks, everyone.

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