State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) paid a visit to the restaurant at North Shore Towers in Floral Park — which was strewn with white banners — Monday evening to discuss taxation issues of concern to the residents of the co-op.
Both state legislators said they recognized the need for real estate tax reform at the state level following the excessive preliminary assessments the city Department of Finance gave to co-ops throughout the city — and particularly in northeast Queens — earlier in the year.
Stavisky said her Cryder Point co-op in Whitestone was initially assessed at 147 percent of its previous year’s value until Finance admitted it had made an error in calculations — at which point her assessment fell to 5.8 percent.
“It is a real problem the way co-ops are assessed as Class 1 properties,” she said.
Braunstein praised the works of both the city and state governments — the latter of which succeeded in passing a marriage equality act — and co-op board member Murray Lewinter cited the speaker’s record on civil rights issues as he introduced her.
Quinn called the resolution of the co-op assessment increases a short-term solution and said state legislators would have to work on a long-term answer. She pointed out that 25 percent of the city’s tax revenue comes from Wall Street and the finance industry, with real estate taxes following closely behind. She said she would like to diversify the city’s tax base by helping to grow small businesses.
The speaker said she felt “a little bit of a kinship with North Shore Towers” due to the fact that the Penn South co-op is in her Manhattan district. Both co-ops are unique in that they generate 100 percent of their own electricity.
“You’re getting taxed like you were Con Edison,” she said.
Herb Cooper, a member of the co-op’s capital improvement committee, said the building’s 35-year old generators work well, but the co-op was hoping to replace them in order to meet increasing emissions standards.
“I don’t know of a single program that helps co-ops,” he told the speaker, who suggested the co-op take advantage of incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Cooper responded that the co-op did not qualify, since it does not purchase electricity from Con Edison.
“I didn’t know there was that wrinkle,” Quinn said, and the two agreed North Shore Towers would benefit from a unified city, state and federal policy.
The speaker concluded by saying she enjoyed the wedding theme of the restaurant.
“I might come back to rent the hall,” she joked.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2011 Community News Group
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