‘We should be supporting property owners’: Middle Village lawmaker opposes higher penalties for late taxes

Photo courtesy of John McCarten/NYC Council

Queens Councilman Robert Holden made a point of voting against two City Council resolutions to raise the interest rate for delinquent payment of property taxes on Wednesday, May 29.

As part of a vote that happens every year as part of the budgeting process, the resolutions established a 7 percent interest rate on the nonpayment of taxes for properties of less than $250,000 and an 18 percent interest rate on properties of $250,000 or more. They passed the City Council by over a 20-vote margin.

“We should be supporting property owners, not making it more challenging to keep their homes. These resolutions would further penalize property owners who are already burdened with challenges posed in satisfying payment on their property taxes,” Holden wrote in a tweet after the meeting.

In general, the constituents in District 30 encounter higher property tax rates because it’s a mostly middle-class area with one- to three-family homes. The median home value in Ridgewood is $1,250,000 and $732,500 in Glendale according to the Multiple Listing Service. It’s rare to find a house under $250,000.

Holden argued that these interest rates will put people in danger of losing their homes. In the case that someone is facing financial hardship and can’t make property payments, these interests rates could put them deeper in debt.

The city’s Department of Finance does offer a Property Tax and Interest Deferral plan to help homeowners going through financial hardship. The plan reduces the amount of property tax they need to pay while the hardship persists.

According to the legislation proposed by Jackson Heights Councilman Daniel Dromm, its goal is “to encourage the prompt payment of taxes on real estate by all large taxpayers.”

Holden was joined by other fiscally conservative Democrats like Mark Gjonaj and Ruben Diaz Sr. and Republicans like Joe Borelli and Eric Ulrich.

“We would be increasing their burden so they could lose their home. This is no good,” said Diaz Sr. in explaining his vote.