- CHARITY BENEFIT
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg and lawmakers scramble to find funding to keep the wheels of Government running, the basic plan seems to be cutting vital programs that benefit the working and middle class. At the same time he is turning a blind eye to the $2 billion dollars owed by thousands of New Yorkers, in the form of violations and unpaid taxes. He has been raising several city taxes in order to close the financial gap. This is according to a recent article by Adam Lisberg and Erin Einhorn of the Daily News in an article titled, “Deadbeats’ 2B no big deal: Bloomy.”
When broken down, $694 million dollars is owed to the city in unpaid business taxes while building owners, landlords and other home owners owe $614 million dollars past due property taxes. $454 million dollars are owed in parking taxes while the remaining is owed for various code violations.
The Mayor’s office claims it is happy with the work done to collect lost funding, then later slashed “The Advantage” apartment rental subsidy program which was keeping as many as 15000 former homeless men and women from being put back out in the streets. According to several reports most of these people now face evictions. According to Chantal Berman of Democracy Now, Bloomberg has stated that cuts were necessary because the city could no longer afford the $140 million per year to keep these residents in their homes. NY1 news has reported that the Mayor is currently looking to cut $64 million more from the program. This news came on the heels of a new report by the Coalition for the Homeless which showed that 43,000 New Yorkers are now homeless, including 17,000 children. This is the most since the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Since taking office Mayor Bloomberg has witnessed the rise of residents in homeless shelters climb to 39%.
Building owners owe what amounts to the second largest sum of lost revenue to New York City. The amount owed in unpaid taxes is only part of the story on how they have skirted paying penalties. When it comes to collecting overall fines from this distinguished bunch, The Environmental Control Board (ECB) the agency in charge of overseeing court hearings regarding housing violations, seems to be more than willing to work with them in order to avoid paying costs.
In one ECB case, involving a fine of approximately $173, 225, the legal team representing Yonah Friedman of Shabbat LLC, simply claimed that the defendant received a Notice of Violations (NOV) after the February 24th delivery date recorded in ECB’s records. This is odd since the Friedman’s attorney appeared at the hearing on February 24th 2011 and gave the judge overseeing the case, a copy of the NOV as an “exhibit.” The judge reportedly filed the paperwork as evidence. But according to a source, at a hearing held on of July 14 2011, Friedman’s lawyers told the judge that his client did not receive the notice of violations until March 11th 2011.
An inquiry has been sent to ECB regarding the agencies’ policies but as of this article’s deadline date, the only response has been a referral to Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), the independent agency which conducts administrative hearings for other City agencies, boards or commissions. When further information becomes available, it will appear in the online version of this piece.
Lost revenue is nothing new for the Big Apple, but now every dollar takes on an added meaning. With the Mayor’s office claiming satisfaction with the pace his agencies are currently working in collecting overdue taxes and other violations, it seems that City Hall’s position will continue to be that the city will not be able to afford those programs benefitting some of the most at risk locals.
According to official records the judge overseeing the NOV(s) made against Shabbat LLC up held findings made by building inspectors and that the owner of the building in question had been in violation of not paying fines which added up to $8,4000 dollars. Regarding one of the complaints filed by DOB, NOV#34702024M, delivered, on February 23rd 2011, which found the Shabbat LLC had illegal constructed five rooms in on their building, the defendant argued that the NOV should be thrown out because the notice contained the wrong call number, NOV#34702027M instead of the correct 24M. The lawyer representing the city, one Mr. Oliver argued that the call number was irrelevant and that should stand because the complaints were well known by the defendant. The judge up held Mr. Oliver’s argument.
Until next time…