With the threat of climate change and redrawn flood zone lines leading to skyrocketing insurance rates, you’d think the only thing that is certain to rise along the Southern Brooklyn waterfront would be encroaching flood waters and not property taxes. Well, property taxes have been hiked for Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay and other coastal areas like Coney Island and the Rockaways, according to a report by the New York Post.
The rise in property taxes comes as a cruel blow to homeowners who have already shelled out thousands on home-repair following Sandy. According to the Post, the news of the tax hikes doesn’t sit well with local residents:
“This is totally insensitive and heartless,” said Ira Zalcman, president of the Manhattan Beach Community Group, which has received more than 30 complaints from residents about the hikes.“We just sustained one of the worst national disasters in our nation’s history, and now the city is delusional, claiming our property values went up.”
Zalcman said that since Sandy, he has spent roughly $100,000 repairing the basement of his Dover Street oceanfront home, for which he pays more than $7,000 a year in property taxes.
According to Zalcman, the rise in assessed property values do not match market realities. While his home was assessed to be worth an additional $79,000, pushing it over the $2 million mark, he claims he’d be lucky to get $1.5 million should he decide to sell.
Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn was also vexed over the increase in property taxes for storm ravaged homeowners. She has vowed to hold an emergency oversight hearing on February 26 to address the issue.
“It raises real doubts about whether [the Finance Department]is doing enough to ensure fair and accurate assessments …” Quinn told the Post. “As New Yorkers work to rebuild their homes and lives, we cannot allow them to be hit twice.”
There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding why property taxes have gone up in the worst hit regions. City officials told the Post that the property assessments were made before the storm, despite the city’s website claiming they were made on January 5.
Mayor Bloomberg insisted that the rise in beach-front property value represented the overall national trend:
“Prices continue to go up in spite of these things,” he said.
But many local real estate brokers say property values in Big Apple neighborhoods affected by Sandy — such as Manhattan Beach and Coney Island in Brooklyn, the Rockaways and parts of Staten Island — have fallen due to storm damage and prospective buyers now leery of living in high-risk hurricane evacuation zones.
Have you been hit with higher property taxes? Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, who along with Councilman Michael Nelson and many other local pols has spoken out against the hikes, included in a recent e-mail blast information on how to file appeals on increased rates and how to apply for assistance through the Finance Department’s Hurricane Sandy Property Tax Relief Program. Relevant details from Cymbrowitz’s press release are listed below.
Property owners who oppose the hikes have until March 15 to appeal to the city Tax Commission before rates are finalized in May. To print a copy of the form you need, click here.
You also have until this Friday, February 15, to apply for assistance through the Finance Department’s Hurricane Sandy Property Tax Relief program. (The deadline was originally February 1st but was extended.) Download the necessary Property Damage Reporting Application form here.
My office also has hard copies of both forms that we can send you. Feel free to call us at (718) 743-4078, email me at [email protected] or stop by and visit us at my temporary district office located at 2658 Coney Island Avenue (between Avenues W and X) and we’ll be happy to help you with this or any other issue. We’re open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and Fridays until 5 p.m.