Mayor Eric Adams denied Friday that raising taxes to help the Big Apple cover the cost of its rising expenses, including the migrant crisis, just wasn’t an option — despite the liberal “tax-the-rich” mantra of City Comptroller Brad Lander calling for “new revenues”, aka tax hikes, to be brought in.
In an eyebrow-raising report released this week, the Comptroller’s Office set forth a string of proposals to raise $1 billion dollars a year in revenue for the city — including hiking personal income tax for the top 1% of income earners and imposing a pied-à-terre, or second home, surcharge.
It also suggests axing the sweet no tax deal on Madison Square Gardens, which exempts the venue from taxation if it’s being used to host pro-hockey and basketball games, in order to help the Big Apple cope with fiscal challenges that “remain on the horizon.”
“If we are going to say, let’s just raise taxes on New Yorkers, if that’s the answer to our problem, I just don’t agree with that,” Hizzoner said Friday when asked about the comptroller’s revenue raising report.
The comptroller, however, argues in the report that new revenues are needed in order to cope with future budget gaps.
“A serious, long-term savings plan to address outyear budget gaps must be a part of that plan, but if the city is going to expand services to address concerns about affordability, and make new investments in shared economic thriving to address post-pandemic conditions, new revenues will be needed,” the report says.
Adams warned earlier this week that more agency budget cuts could be on the horizon before his $106 billion budget is voted on by June 30, though he stopped short of naming any specific departments.
The comptroller’s report acknowledges that any suggested tax hikes, which were proposed well after budget season, would “require statutory changes in Albany” — a move Gov. Kathy Hochul, too, has already said she’s not willing to support.
Skeptical City Councilmembers quickly ripped the proposals laid bare in the report, while questioning Lander’s motives in trying to raise taxes.
“The mayor has made a priority of trimming the fat, we shouldn’t be buttering up our bacon instead,” Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) said of the proposed hikes.
Councilman Bob Holden (D-Queens) also chimed in, insisting: “There’s no tax increase in the world that the comptroller wouldn’t support.”
“It’s out-of-touch progressives, like Lander, that are causing taxpayers to flee the city for greener pastures, and the fact that he continues to push for more taxes for an already over-bloated budget comes as no surprise,” Holden added.
Meanwhile, State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) accused the comptroller of being eager to make New York’s already “oppressive” tax climate even worse — noting that efforts to hike taxes already failed in the state budget.
“‘Raising revenue’ is simply Democratic-speak for more taxes. And whether it’s a new tax on commuters, on MTA users or on high-earners, they do nothing to improve the affordability crisis here,” he said.
“Liberal tax-the-rich efforts failed to reach the final state budget, and that’s a good thing. Implementing higher taxes will not reverse the trends that see New York losing its share of high-earners and financial institutions moving their operations to more affordable states.”
Asked about Lander’s assessment to raise taxes to cover expenses, specifically the migrant crisis, Mayor Adams warned on Friday that it wasn’t a viable solution.
“This is not a sustainable method to address this problem, so we just can’t say we are going to tax our way out of it by hitting New Yorkers with additional taxes,” he said of the influx of migrants flowing into the Big Apple.
“We need to get the help from national government, as I’ve been saying for some time now.”
The Adams administration applied for more than $650 million in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for the crushing migrants costs — but has so far received just $38.5 million.
It comes after Adams’ top budget official warned Wednesday that the ongoing surge of migrants flooding into the Big Apple might mean the city needs to “update” the $4.3 billion price tag already budgeted for the crisis.
Lander, too, projected the Big Apple will spend roughly $1 billion more than previously forecast tackling the asylum seeker surge.
He predicted earlier this week the cost will reach $4 billion by June 2024, which tops Adams’ current estimate of $2.9 billion through the same period.