Though many elected officials have hoped for a federal bailout to assuage New York City’s fiscal crises, it is clear that federal funding will fall short. NYC must take measures to right the ship, as painful as that may be. To that end, the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) released their annual report with 14 suggestions to improve city finances. Some of these suggestions are controversial and there are pros and cons associated with each, but each should be considered and debated as the time for inactivity has long passed.
- Establish a Pied-A-Tier Tax ($390 million projected revenue). The pied-a-terre tax would be assessed on one-, two-, and three-family residences (Class 1 properties) with market values of $5 million or more, and condominium and cooperative apartments with assessed value for property tax purposes of $300,000 or more.
- Increase Certain Vehicle Fines for Multiple Violations in the Same Year ($119 million projected revenue). Incrementally increase fines for red light and school speeding camera tickets over a 12-month period. $50 first offense, $100 second offense, $150 third offense, $200 fourth offense, and $250 for each offense thereafter.
- Open Outdoor Municipal Lots for Overnight Parking ($2 million projected revenue) NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) owns and operates 29 parking fields across the city, and most are closed between 10PM-7AM. Though the report does not mention trucks, overnight truck parking is a major need for the region and finding a way for the city to provide that while making some cash would be a major win-win.
- Repeal the Commercial Revitalization and Commercial Expansion Programs ($22 million projected revenue by 2031).
- Resume Water Board Rental Payments ($107 million projected revenue in 2021, $244 million annually thereafter).
- Citywide Pay Freeze ($1 billion projected savings). As of September 2020, the city has signed contracts with labor unions representing 80 percent of the city workforce in the current 2017-2021. There is some precedent for freezing pay in times of economic turmoil.
- Cut Managerial Pay on a Graduated Basis ($25 million projected savings). These salaries can be changed by the mayor through executive action rather than through union negotiations.
- Eliminate Supplemental Subsidy for School Bus Drivers ($35 million projected savings). Since 2014, the city has been paying a subsidy to school bus transportation rms through a grant program administered by the Department of Small Business Services.
- Eliminate Retiree Health Care Coverage for City Retirees Eligible for Coverage from Another Employer ($35 to $70 million projected savings).
- Match NYC Ferry Fares to Express Bus Fares ($35 million projected savings). Currently, the estimated ferry subsidy is an unsustainable $9.34. IBO recommends increasing the fare to $6.75.
- Raise Paratransit Fare to Maximum Level Allowed Under Federal Regulations ($15 million projected savings).
- Reduce Hours of Operation for 311 Call Services ($6 million projected savings).
- Require a Health Insurance Contribution by Current City Employees ($584 million projected savings). Employee contributions would gradually increase based on income.
- Tax Parking Placards as a Fringe Benefit ($13 million projected revenue). Fringe benefits are supposed to be taxed at “fair market value,” the amount someone would pay in an arm’s length transaction to buy the benefit.
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