The mayor cannot possibly relate to the struggles of Bay Ridge homeowners. As a result of current assessment policy, his house is assessed at just 1.2% of its city-estimated market value. However, in Bay Ridge, the median assessment is 4.3% percent. For homeowners in Queens (just under 5%), the Bronx (5.2%), and Staten Island (5.3%), it is even higher.
The mayor pays about $3,600 in annual property taxes for a house that the city estimates is worth $1.4 million.
In Bay Ridge, the median tax burden for homeowners is about $6,200, even though the city estimates that the median home in the neighborhood is worth only $785,000. If Bay Ridge homeowners paid the same effective tax rate as the mayor, their median tax burden would be less than $1,900. (The discrepancies can stem from a variety of factors, but it’s not clear which ones explain the mayor’s low rate.)
Although city officials argue that these inequities can be fixed only if Albany changes the law, the solution is simple and can be implemented immediately. The mayor should ensure that all assessments for homeowners in the city are uniform. That means lowering their ratio to that of the mayor’s house: 1.2%.
The decision is not only within the city’s control, it is legally required. The Real Property Tax law provides that all assessments must be uniform within each tax class—uniformity is the sine qua non of the property-tax system.
For a mayor whose political mantra includes a commitment to eradicating inequality, not addressing the blatant inequities in the property-tax system from which he benefits, and for which the solutions are solely within his control, is iniquitous. There are solutions. The mayor just needs the will to implement them.