Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., New York County District Attorney, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that BAHRAM KARIMI was charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements in connection with his involvement in a joint project initiated by the Governments of Iran and Venezuela in which more than $115 million was illegally funneled through the U.S. financial system for the benefit of various Iranian individuals and entities. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan.
Friday, January 31, 2020
Iranian National Charged With Bank Fraud And Lying To Federal Agents In Connection With A Scheme To Use The U.S. Financial System To Send More Than $115 Million To Iranian Individuals And Entities
Report includes 10 initial recommendations to make City’s property tax system simpler, fairer and more transparent
The New York City Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform today released its Preliminary Report with an analysis of the City’s property tax system and a set of ten initial recommendations for system reforms. The report marks the first review of the property tax system by a government-appointed commission since 1993. The report can be found here.
The Commission reviewed the system through the lens of fairness and transparency, with the goal of ensuring properties of similar value are taxed equitably, taxes are clearly administered, and steps are in place to prevent resident displacement. The report includes a brief history of New York City’s property tax system, the current methods that the Department of Finance uses to calculate property tax bills, the challenges with the existing property tax system and initial recommendations for reform.
The Commission reached consensus on 10 initial recommendations:
The Commission recommends moving coops, condominiums and rental buildings with up to 10 units into a new residential class along with 1-3 family homes. The property tax system would continue to consist of four classes of property: residential, large rentals, utilities, and commercial.
The Commission recommends using a sales-based methodology to value all properties in the residential class.
The Commission recommends assessing every property in the residential class at its full market value.
The Commission recommends that annual market value changes in the new residential class be phased in over five years at a rate of 20% per year, and that Assessed Value Growth Caps should be eliminated.
The Commission recommends creating a partial homestead exemption for primary resident owners with income below a certain threshold. The exemption would be available to all eligible primary resident owners in the residential class and would replace the current Coop-Condo Tax Abatement.
The Commission recommends creating a circuit breaker within the property tax system to lower the property tax burden on low-income primary resident owners, based on the ratio of property tax paid to income.
The Commission recommends replacing the current class share system with a system that prioritizes predictable and transparent tax rates for property owners. The new system would freeze the relationship of tax rates among the tax classes for five-year periods, after which time the City would conduct a mandated study to analyze if adjustments need to be made to maintain consistency in the share of taxes relative to fair market value borne by each tax class.
The Commission recommends that current valuation methods should be maintained for properties not in the new residential class (rental buildings with more than 10 units, utilities, and commercial).
The Commission recommends a gradual transition to the new system for current owners, with an immediate transition into the new system whenever a property in the new residential class is sold.
The Commission recommends instituting comprehensive reviews of the property tax system every 10 years.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced the formation of the Commission in May of 2018. The Commission was charged with developing recommendations to reform the existing property tax system to make it simpler, clearer, and fairer, while ensuring that there is no reduction in revenue used to fund essential City services.
Since its creation, the Commission conducted public hearings across the City for members of the public to testify on their view of the challenges with the existing property tax system, as well as for experts to share insights on specific issues such as mechanisms to provide relief to homeowners. In total, the Commission sponsored 10 public events, including these hearings and two public meetings where overviews of the system were presented by expert staff at the Department of Finance and City Council Finance Division. The Commission will hold additional public hearings in each borough to solicit public input before issuing its final recommendations.
In addition to the next round of hearings and extensive stakeholder engagement, the Commission will work on addressing a number of outstanding issues to arrive at a set of final recommendations.
Commission members include Marc V. Shaw, Chair, Allen P. Cappelli, Carol O’Cleireacain, Kenneth J. Knuckles, James A. Parrott, Gary Rodney and Elizabeth Velez. The Commission also included non-voting ex-officio members including the Commissioner of Finance Jacques Jiha, Budget Director Melanie Hartzog, City Council Finance Division Director Latonia McKinney, and the Deputy Director and Chief Economist of the City Council Finance Division Raymond Majewski. Vicki Been was co-chair of the Commission prior to her appointment as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.
“The property tax remains the City’s most important single revenue source, representing almost half of all the City’s annual tax revenues. The work undertaken by the Commission, first and foremost, reflects our collective desire to protect the City’s fisc, while at the same time making the system more fair, predictable and transparent,” said Commission Chair Marc V. Shaw.
“This blueprint for reform provides the opportunity to finally have equity in our real property tax system,” said Commission Member Allen P. Cappelli. “Unfairly treated communities, including much of Staten Island, should not only receive equal treatment, but also have a transparent and easily understood system!”
“The real property tax has been around a long time and engendered much animosity, particularly with respect to fairness. So, any reform commission should view its task with much humility. Within our mandate, we address here the sorest points. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure a fair system for residents and one that makes sense for the City’s twenty-first century economy,” said Commission Member Carol O’Cleireacain.
“In order for any property tax system to be deemed credible, such system must be perceived as fair, transparent, and understandable. For most City residents, real property taxes impact their largest source of capital investment and wealth. Accordingly, there is a duty to ensure that the governing system is equitable. I think the Commission's 10 initial recommendations represent a significant step in that direction. I look forward to the additional feedback we will receive in public hearings across the City in the near future,” said Commission Member Kenneth J. Knuckles.
“This preliminary report presents a far-reaching set of recommendations to make the city’s property tax system more transparent, fair and equitable. There are no easy solutions to the problems rooted in state law that have festered for nearly 40 years. This report deserves careful consideration through the upcoming borough public hearings and other discussions that hopefully will result in a broad public consensus in support of these recommendations,” said Commission Member James A. Parrott.
“Everyone feels the impact of the inequities in our property tax system. The recommendations in this preliminary report attempt to address the challenges of our system by making it fairer for everyone regardless of their neighborhood. We look forward to working collaboratively with our partners at the city and state to make comprehensive reform of our property tax system a reality,” said Commission Member Gary Rodney.
“Property tax reform is of significant importance and should allow for a more understandable and equitable structure. This is especially relevant as it relates to its impact on New York City’s homeowners and the corresponding burden on renters within our communities,” said Commission Member Elizabeth Velez.
Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the City will be increasing truck enforcement and performing urgent, structural repairs on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The Mayor signed an Executive Order to create the new NYPD BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force. Starting on Monday, February 3, this new unit will increase enforcement against illegal, overweight trucks that are exacerbating the BQE’s structural issues.
The City will also repair the Hicks Street Wall and sections of the cantilever. Construction on the Hicks Street Wall will start in the spring, and be complete by the end of 2020. DOT will begin the design process on the most deteriorated portions of the cantilever starting this summer, and work will be complete by the end of 2022.
“The BQE is one of the main arteries of our City, which is why we are immediately increasing enforcement against overweight trucks and addressing the highway’s most pressing structural issues,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I applaud the expert panel for putting forward several solutions preserve the BQE, and we will continue to explore the next steps necessary to keep New Yorkers safe and moving.”
“The BQE is a vital stretch of roadway in New York City and I thank the expert panel for their work helping identify solutions to the structural issues it faces,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “As we work on immediate repairs to key sections of the roadway, we will be partnering with law enforcement to crack down on illegal overweight trucks through Executive Order 51.”
“I want to thank the BQE expert panel, who did remarkable work over most of the last year,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We are particularly grateful for their confirmation of the problem of illegal, overweight trucks, which are accelerating the deterioration of the BQE. Under the Mayor’s leadership, we look forward to working with NYPD and our State partners to address this problem, as we also take quick action to repair areas of the roadway that need our attention.”
“The NYPD is committed to ensuring safe travel for all on our city’s roadways and we will work with our partner stakeholders in this important new transportation initiative,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation William T. Morris.
In 2019, the Mayor convened a panel of experts to evaluate the best options to preserve the structural integrity of the BQE from the Atlantic Avenue interchange to Sands Street in Brooklyn. The panel outlined a series of recommendations, including increase enforcement against illegal overweight trucks, as well as making urgent repairs to Hicks Street Wall and the most deteriorated portions of the cantilever. The panel also recommended against building a temporary highway through the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or Brooklyn Bridge Park. The administration has embraced the panel’s recommendation against building a temporary highway through the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
“The triple cantilever section of the BQE is in urgent need of repairs and steps must be taken right away to reduce traffic and fix this section of the roadway,” said Carlo Scissura, Chair of BQE expert panel and President and CEO of the New York Building Congress. “I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for his leadership, not only in forming the expert panel to study the issue, but in taking immediate action to address the most severe structural issues and increase enforcement against illegal, overweight trucks that are overburdening the highway.”
Using data supplied by new state-of-the-art sensors, made by C2SMART to aid DOT in assessing the structure, the BQE Expert Panel noted that many trucks on the roadway are in severe violation of BQE weight restrictions. Under Federal legal guidelines and posted signage, trucks along the BQE are limited to a maximum of 80,000 pounds — or 40 tons. However, the sensors have determined that some trucks along the roadway are more than double that weight, as much as 170,000 pounds. Such excessive weight can do serious damage, with consequences for the roadway’s structural integrity. Under current state law, NYPD can issue violations to overweight trucks — with penalties as high as $7,000 per violation.
Increased Truck Enforcement:
Executive Order 51 requires the City to promote and protect the structural integrity of the BQE by through the following actions:
Establish the NYPD BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force that will rigorously enforce existing weight restrictions on the BQE, starting Monday February 3.
Require DOT and NYPD working with the Deputy Mayor for Operations, to develop and present the Mayor with specific proposals to protect the safety and structural integrity of the BQE. The agencies will consider proposals to increase penalties for violation of weight restrictions on the BQE as well as explore the institution of automated enforcement of weight restrictions. The agencies will identify which of these proposals require action outside of City control, including those requiring state law amendments.
Urgent Structural Repairs:
DOT has also identified immediate action it will take in 2020 to address immediate structural issues identified in the BQE Panel report. DOT will this year:
Perform immediate surface road work starting this spring, which will include milling and paving the roadway deck, repairing deck sections to ensure roadway life, restoring defective pavement, and fully replacing the mesh underneath the structure.
Perform and complete structural repairs to the retaining wall found along Hicks Street, which should increase the life span of the wall by approximately 10 years.
Address the two 50-foot long sections of the lever structure that are showing faster signs of deterioration. DOT plans to design those changes and procure the contractor to do the work this year, with construction completed on those sections by 2022.
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR DE BLASIO ON THE NYC ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PROPERTY TAX REFORM’S PRELIMINARY REPORT
“The Commission’s recommendations are the most significant reforms proposed in forty years, and will bring a much needed level of fairness, transparency and simplicity to the entire system. I thank them for their hard work tackling these complex issues head-on and look forward to their final report. Together, we can bring our tax system into the modern day.”
STATE SENATOR GUSTAVO RIVERA AND BRONX COMMUNITY BOARD SEVEN HOST A TOWN HALL ON THE FINAL PLAN OF THE BRONX BUS NETWORK REDESIGN
State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Bronx Community Board 7 will host a town hall meeting on the final draft plan of The Bronx Bus Network Redesign on Saturday, February 1 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Monroe College.
During the town hall, representatives of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will give a presentation on the final draft plan of The Bronx Bus Network Redesign and explain how the potential new bus routes will impact bus riders of Senate District 33.
Attendees will be able to address the panelists and voice their concerns on how these potential changes could affect their daily commutes. Further, they will be able to connect with transportation activists.
WHAT: Town Hall on the Final Draft Plan of The Bronx Bus Network RedesignWHO: State Senator Gustavo Rivera
Bronx Community Board 7
WHERE: Monroe College
2501 Jerome Avenue
Bronx, NY 10468
WHEN: Saturday, February 1, 2020, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm.
The event is free and open to the public.
The Bronx, NY City Councilmember Rev. Rubén Díaz together with Assembly Members Marcos Crespo, and Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, District Leader Hon. John Perez and Community Leader George Alvarez announce the celebration of the 2020 Annual “African American Abrazo “Embrace” in New York State.”
This Annual African American Abrazo (Embrace) will take place Friday, February 21st, 2020, at 7:00 pm at Maestros Caterer’s located at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue, in the Bronx.
The African American Abrazo (Embrace) is an annual “free” activity attended by more than 500 people organized by Rev. Ruben Diaz and elected officials in celebration of the “Black History Month.”
Distinguish members of the African American community will be recognized during the Abrazo night for their contribution, achievements, and dedication to the community.
For more information, please contact Leila Martinez at (718) 792-1140
Thursday, January 30, 2020
City now investing $800 million on new water mains over next two years, a $130 million increase
The de Blasio Administration announced the City will be constructing new water mains and increasing staffing as part of several steps in the efforts to ensure the continued reliability of the City’s water delivery system. This initiative brings the City’s capital investment in new water mains and related infrastructure to $800 million over the next two fiscal years
“New York City water is famous for its drinkability,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We must ensure our infrastructure keeps it where it is supposed to be – en route to New Yorkers homes and not spilling out all over the sidewalk. Our investments will continue to bring down water main breaks and bring New Yorkers their water safely.”
“This new effort will further cement New York City as one of the country’s leaders in water main systems and infrastructure,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “With more than 8.5 million people who call New York City home, infrastructure that can continue to withstand the daily and long-term stresses is essential.”
“New York City’s water delivery system is not only admired because it is an engineering marvel, but also because it reliably serves more than 8.5 million people about 1 billion gallons of high quality water every day of the year,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Mayor de Blasio’s additional capital commitments today will ensure that we can continue to build new, stronger water mains while expanding our inspection protocol so that we can continue to reliably deliver the champagne of tap water to every building across the five boroughs.”
New York City has one of the most reliable water main systems in the country, far outperforming the national average. Large cities across the United States average 25 breaks for every 100 miles of water main while the industry has set a best practices goal of 15 breaks for every 100 miles of main. With approximately 6,800 miles of water mains, New York City averages 6.6 breaks for every 100 miles of water main. There are several reasons for the strong performance of the City’s system, including the requirement that the water mains are built with the strongest material available and the maintenance of a consistent pressure grade in order to reduce the fluctuations that could lead to breaks.
To ensure New York City continues to have a leading water system in the nation, the City is taking the following new measures:
Building New Water Mains
The City is adding approximately $128 million in capital funding to ensure the replacement of approximately 1 percent of the system’s water mains annually. The regular replacement of water mains is an important component of maintaining a well-functioning water delivery system.
To expand DEP’s pro-active inspections of water mains an additional three crews will be added. Pro-active inspections help DEP identify and repair small leaks before they grow and can cause property damage and affect other services
An additional three crews will be added in order to increase the number of valves that are inspected and exercised annually. Regularly exercising and maintaining the hundreds of thousands of valves throughout the system helps to ensure crews can promptly shut off water when there is a break.
DEP and NYC Emergency Management will meet with the New York City Fire Department, Department of Transportation, Con Edison, National Grid, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority and others to review current coordination protocols in an effort to expedite water shut-off and service restoration during emergencies.
DEP prioritizes new water main construction based on multiple factors including the age, size, material and historical performance of the current main, as well as neighborhood demand for water and proximity of other capital projects. DEP will work to develop a predictive model to forecast the likelihood of future water main breaks.