Memo to City Council Finance Committee Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland: Guest speakers at Citizens Budget Commission breakfasts should expect a question from Alair Townsend, the former deputy mayor and retired Crain’s New York Business publisher.
And that question will be: What two taxes would you cut to make the city’s businesses more competitive?
The Townsend test is something of a rite of passage for city policymakers. For Ferreras-Copeland, it came Wednesday at an event in midtown.
She did not pass.
The councilwoman, queried at the podium by Townsend, was unable to name even one tax she would cut.
After a brief silence, Ferreras-Copeland recovered a bit. “I’m going to take your question as a challenge,” she said, and promised to have an answer the next time the Citizens Budget Commission invites her to speak.
Asked for her reaction to Ferreras-Copeland’s answer, Townsend said she was “disappointed but not surprised.”
The former Koch administration budget director and deputy mayor explained, “Council members rarely think about cutting taxes. They are all about spending. They mostly respond to tax cuts initiated by the mayor, and these have not been forthcoming.”