Property tax increase less awful than expected, but maintenance rising 8 percent

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As boards tear their hair out over budgets for next year, the city announced a property tax rate increase yesterday. Surprise! It's slightly less than expected—and a lot better than last year.

Co-ops and condos will pay about 2 percent more (retroactive to last June), compared to last year’s hefty 9 percent hike, according to a memo distributed yesterday by Sonnenschein Sherman & Deutsch, a real estate law firm which does a healthy business protesting tax increases on behalf of its co-op and condo clients.

Exit tiny sigh of relief.

“It’s a lot less than we thought it was going to be,” says Gary Ziprin, the CFO of Midboro Management in Manhattan.

He says the Department of Finance had posted a rate of 13.684 percent (versus the 13.241% passed yesterday) on its website in August, but the state needed to sign off on a leap that big.

“With everything going on in Albany at the time, we assume they were unable to get that approved,” says Ziprin.

The lower rate is good news for the 70-odd co-ops managed by Midboro.  

“We were looking at maintenance increases of around 10%, and now it looks like they’ll be around 7.5 to 8% percent,” he says.  He blamed the increases on a motley crew of exacerbating factors including property taxes, a new union contract kicking in next April, and the high cost of keeping old buildings young.

Meanwhile, the property tax appeals business continues to rage apace, according to Stan Russo at Sonnenschein Sherman.

“We’re getting more owners realizing they need to understand the process better and have someone watch out for them,” says Russo.  

Appeals usually take about a year and a good result is lowering the initial assessment to a three to seven percent increase over the prior year, he says.