Board 6 Informed Of Regulations
Residents living in condominiums and co-ops should be aware of how tax abatements affect their building’s finances, a Community Board 6 member told the board during its meeting last Wednesday, Apr. 10 at Kew Gardens Community Center.
In January, there was a change to the co-op/condominium tax abatement, according to Greg Carlson.
Abatements generally reduce the amount of taxes due on a property.
“It’s a really big game-changer,” he said.
Carlson said the abatement increased in July, 2012 for the majority of residents living in Community Board 4 from 17.5 percent to 25 percent. It will rise to 28.3 percent in July 2013. Additionally, trusts and LLCs will no longer receive the tax relief.
However, the city continued collecting as though the abatement was still 17.5 percent from July of 2012 to June of 2013, he said.
According to Carlson, this coming July “they’re going to take all that year plus another quarter-meaning the quarter starting July 1st 2013 to September 2013-and they’re going to adjust everything in that one July  bill.”
As a result, property taxes will appear to drop drastically, expecially for buildings with a lot of primary residents, Carlson said.
“It’s going to be a big drop,” he said.
Carlson warned, however, that adjustments to the abatement could mislead escrow agents and banks into lowering residents’ bills after July.
He said that could lead to a deficit when quarterly taxes are due in October, leaving residents on the hook for past underpayments.
“Tell your managing agent to make sure that your escrow is not depleted- or is funded in the proper monthly payments-so that you don’t run into this problem,” he said.
Additionally, Carlson, who is also Vice President of the National Association of Housing Co-operatives (NACH) said there may be relief on the way for condo owners and members of co-ops who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not cover damages to these types of housing, because residents are considered business entities rather than homeowners, but the NACH and a coalition of similar groups are working with FEMA to change that.
He said the coalition and FEMA had an initial meeting at Congressman Steve Israeli’s office last week, and once the groups hammer out details, they will “pass legislation to correct this inequity,” he said.
FEMA will be working with the coalition and Israeli’s office to write the legislation, he noted.
Capt. Thomas Conforti, the commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, warned the board about identity thieves who use high-tech gadgets to steal debit card information.
He said crooks hook card readers to ATMs, and when a customer swipes a card, the reader swipes a copy of their card information.
The thieves also install tiny cameras onto the ATM. The cameras, which are often smaller than a shirt button, help crooks peek at PIN codes while the victims punch them in, according to Conforti.
With card info and a PIN number, theives can go shopping on victims’ dime, he said.
Conforti suggested covering the keypad with a free hand while typing the PIN code with the other. The move should block a camera’s view, he said, reminding the crowd to check bank statements frequently.
Board Member Steven Goldberg warned attendees about a credit card con where scammers pose as representatives from American Express.
He said he received an email that appeared to be from American Express requesting credit information.
The email told Goldberg to download a program to his computer and enter all his personal information.
“You never do that,” he said.
He noted official emails regarding a person’s credit card will include the last 4 digits of their card number as a way of verifying their legitimacy. The recent email Goldberg recieved did not have that information.
Typically, credit card companies do not request personal information over the phone or by email.
New sidewalk café
The board approved an unenclosed sidewalk café for Vanilla Sky at 70-35 Austin St.
Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Norman Leibowitz said the applicant sought 21 tables and 44 seats, but the committee decided the request was too large. The request was double the size of any other restaurant/ cafes on restaurant row, he noted.
Leibowitz said the applicant will amend his request to reduce the number of tables and chairs.
“It’s just way too many tables,” he said.
Liquor license applications
The board approved one new application for Rumba Supper Club Corp. at 67-63 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park. Leibowitz noted the location is not actually a supper club, but a restaurant. The name initially raised concerns among the committee, he said.
The board also renewed licenses for 4 locations: Blackwater at 101-17 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, Applebee’s at 95-25 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, Village Grill at 73-01 Yellowstone Blvd. in Forest Hills, and Theater Cafe at 106-03 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills.
The board voted to deny a request for renewal from Tropix Bar & Lounge at 95-32 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park. The location has been the site of 43 incidents since 2004, Leibowitz stated. “As a committee, we felt we couldn’t approve it in good standing,” he said.
Those wishing to comment on any of the applicants may do so by calling Board 6 at 1-718-263-9250.
The board chose new officers. Naomi Altman was voted vice chair secretary and Carlson was voted vice chair of finance.