64th Assembly District Race: Candidates Weigh in On Property Tax Reform

Marko Kepi (1)

Nothing is final in life, except death and taxes. It seems in 2020 the former is truer than ever before, but the latter is still a toss-up.

Among the biggest tax questions before Albany lawmakers right now is that of property taxes.

Back in 2018, homeowners were facing potentially more local property taxes because of an advisory commission that wanted to introduce property tax reforms. Homes in places like Manhattan or Brooklyn fluctuated wildly because of price appreciation and cultural influences, like gentrification, so the idea was to use a “sales-based methodology to value all properties in the residential class.” 

The commission also included at least one caveat for low-income primary residence owners that based the tax on the ratio of property tax paid to their incomes. However, the commission hasn’t created its final report on the city’s property taxes just yet.

With that in mind, KCP asked the candidates – Republicans Marko Kepi and Michael Tannousis, and Democrat Brandon Patterson –  running for the 64th State Assembly District race covering Bay Ridge and Staten Island the following question.

What’s your stance on property taxes that haven’t been reconfigured in years for your constituents, and do you think that they will be adversely affected because of COVID-19? What kind of relief plan, if any, do you have for property owners that want to be represented in Albany?

Marko Kepi

Marko Kepi [a spokesperson answered]: “We’re not going to balance this on the backs of taxpayers. Many people were forced to suspend their commerce, and small business owners make up this district and those are also homeowners. How can we even think of raising taxes on the backs of people who have not seen income in months and in cases have gone through savings? Their nest eggs have gone.” 

Kepi’s spokesperson said they would not let the middle-class be punished because of a crisis, and the first step to rebuilding the economy would be to cut government spending and not raise taxes.  

Michael Tannousis

Michael Tannousis: “Middle- and working-class homeowners have been paying more than their fair share while high-value homes in popular neighborhoods pay essentially the same amount. Homeowners needed a tax cut before this pandemic began, and need it now more than ever.” 

Tannousis believes waiving the coming quarterly tax bill would be a good way to help people make ends meet. He recognizes that the property values on which their taxes are based have likely taken a hit due to this crisis.

Brandon Patterson

Brandon Patterson: “I have been advocating for well over a year for the city to change its property tax structure so that my neighbors in Staten Island and Bay Ridge see relief. Our assessments are notoriously unfair, and the current system is antiquated.”

Patterson said that the city needs to ensure that the folks in Manhattan start paying their fair share so that his district can see relief. He wants to get New York back on its feet after the pandemic. 

“I’ll be in the room on day one in the majority to set in place relief, such as my plan for union built housing for union members and civil servants,” said Patterson.