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Gilbert tells IREM members: reverse exodus mentality.

Gilbert tells IREM members: Reverse exodus mentality

John J. Gilbert III, president of the Rent Stabilization Association of New York City, Inc. (RSA), urged New York property owners, managers and residents alike to protest the city's plans to increase real property taxes in some cases up to 25 percent on July 1.

Gilbert, speaking to an audience of real estate professionals at the monthly luncheon sponsored by Greater New York Chapter No. 26 of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) warned that during the current fiscal crisis increased taxes will only bury the city deeper into the recession.

With more than 35,000 privately-owned apartments that have not paid taxes in two or more years and $675 million in uncollected property taxes already, Gilbert predicted that Mayor Dinkins' proposed tax hikes will only compound the city's budget deficit. Not only would hundreds of New Yorkers be forced to leave, thereby depleting the city of desperately needed revenues for social services, but thousands of private sector jobs would be eliminated by owners forced to reduce the payroll in order to pay increased property taxes. According to Gilbert, owners and managers are already handicapped by increases in water and sewer rates that will outweigh owners' exorbitant fuel costs (sewer and water rates are going up 18.5 percent and 20 percent, respectively). The massive hike in property taxes will translate into thousands of dollars in expenses for an already overburdened real estate industry.

"We must reverse the mentality of leaving New York as an answer to our fiscal crisis," stressed Gilbert. In response to the mounting problems facing the more than 25,000 owners of rentstabilized apartment buildings who it represents, RSA has been lobbying to protect the real estate industry from further penalties by the city. Thanks to RSA, reforms in housing court have been successful; judges, who have previously been able to speak off the record at hearings, are no longer permitted to do so; owners now have a basis for appeal. Further, RSA has set up tables at the housing court so that owners can file appeals expeditiously and less expensively.

In addition, RSA has formed an association of cooperatives for the purpose of purchasing fuel in volume. Through this coalition, owners purchase fuel at the rate of 5 to 13 cents per gallon.

Gilbert is hoping, however, that the association, Taxpayers for an Affordable New York will have the greatest impact on the city's proposed property tax increases. The grass-roots coalition was founded to mobilize home, cooperative and condominium owners, commercial property owners as well as businesses to rally against the city's proposed tax hike before the city council votes on the proposal on June 30. Taxpayers for an Affordable New York includes organizations from all five boroughs, including the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), RSA, the Apartment Owners Association and Small Property Owners of New York.

"It is incumbent upon us to prevent Mayor Dinkins and the City Council from raising taxes," stressed Gilbert. In an effort to prevent legislation of the tax hike, the association has recently mailed over 850,000 letters to city property owners and managers urging them not to succumb to the new tax hike or move out of New York. The letters included pre-addressed post cards for owners and managers to send to Mayor Dinkins, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and local council members to challenge the new tax increase.

Gilbert offered his solutions for the fiscal crisis of the 90s: decontrolling the most expensive rent-regulated apartments in the city and restructuring the way the city is currently run. By creating classes of rent-regulated apartments and decontrolling only those with the highest rents, Gilbert said, the city will take in additional revenue from owners: increased rents allow owners to improve their buildings' physical operations and consequently enhance their properties' assessment status.

In terms of restructuring the city's government practices, Gilbert stated that it is essential that all New Yorkers reevaluate the existing system "with an eye towards flexibility and creativity." For example, instead of closing library branches, Gilbert suggested City University of New York (CUNY) students and other college students run the libraries for credit. Rather than capitulating to the city's financial woes and relocating to other cities, Gilbert encouraged business leaders to offer alternatives to help run the city more cost-effectively.

PHOTO : GILBERT SPEAKS ON FISCAL CRISIS John Gilbert, president of the Rent Stabilization, was the guest speaker at a recent luncheon gathering of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). L to R: Michael Martino, IREM President; Gilbert; Hilary Becker, president elect, Nicholas Stolatis, treasurer.
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Title Annotation:Institute of Real Estate Management, John J. Gilbert III
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 5, 1991
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