By MIKE LEE
As the Mayor and the City Council negotiate next year’s budget, DC 37 leaders say New York City is losing millions of dollars in revenue by failing to invest fully in enforcement measures to safeguard its coffers.
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and Local 1757 President Maria Policarpo have called on the city to reverse the decades-long reduction of staff responsible for tax assessments and property inspections.
At a City Council budget hearing in March, Garrido noted the hazards of the current economic climate – issues with state aid, threats of reduced funding from the Trump administration – and urged lawmakers to take the steps required to generate more revenue.
“We believe the root cause of this (lost revenue) problem is an undermanned workforce,” Garrido told the Council’s Finance Committee. “Millions of property tax dollars are left on the table by the city because it lacks the necessary assessors and tax auditors. It is time the Council address these issues and provide the funding to hire more workers.”
DC 37 leaders also believe that recent rulings by the state Court of Appeals in Albany pave the way for the city to bring in more revenue by taxing fiber-optic installations and cables.
And Garrido said that lack of enforcement is causing the city to lose revenue on billboards.
”No income statements were filed for 82 percent of billboards in the city, and upon a partial review by the city, this added up to $9 million in lost income,” he said. “As stakeholders in this city, we are committed to assist in advancing our city’s economic stability.”
NYC budget negotiations have been high on DC 37’s agenda throughout the spring.
At City Council hearings and in meetings with Council staff, union leaders have pushed for enhanced public services across-the-board:
Investment in renewable energy. DC 37 supports implementation of a comprehensive solar panel program on public buildings and the creation of an Office of Building Energy Performance to monitor progress and identify (and help solve) problems.
Parks. At the Council’s March 8 Parks and Recreation Committee hearing, Local 983 President Joe Puleo, Local 1505 President Dilcy Benn and Local 1507 President Daniel Clay called for preserving and baselining $13 million to maintain much-needed Parks Department staff, including Urban Park Rangers, City Park Workers and Gardeners. “If this funding is not restored and baselined, the maintenance and upkeep of the parks will suffer, leading to blight and neighborhood decay,” Benn warned.
DC 37 is part of Fair Play, a large coalition of advocacy groups calling for $100 million overall to preserve and protect city parks.
Libraries. DC 37 urges the maintenance of six-day services at branches and increased funding to bolster existing services across the city. In addition, libraries needs $920 million in capital funding over 10 years for critical maintenance and repairs.
The city’s public health care system. ‘Safety net’ hospitals and clinics need sustainable funding.
Education. In the throes of an opioid crisis, city schools need to ensure the presence of Substance Abuse Prevention Intervention Specialists (SAPIS). Meanwhile, $175 million over five years in capital funding is needed for to redesign some of our schools’ deteriorating cafeterias.
Human Resources Administration. Local 1549 has called on the city to increase staffing at HRA, particularly the number of Eligibility Specialists, who handle calls from the public seeking help and access to services.
“It is outrageous that when New Yorkers need help the city does not have the staffing to provide the services they need,” Local 1549 2nd Vice President Ralph Palladino told the Council.
Public Safety. Palladino also called for revenue generating proposals to be implemented, notably to pressure the NYPD to complete the civilianization of the work of the Police Administrative Aides.
“Right now, currently more than 500 able-bodied police officers are doing this work,” said Palladino. “Having our union members do this work will save the city more than $30 million.”
Budget negotiations continue throughout the spring.