Queens Lawmakers on the Move September 3, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Constantinides Calls for Sports Arenas to Pay Fair Share

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Councilmember Costa Constantinides joined eight other councilmembers in calling for New York City’s highly touted franchises to do their part to help get through an unprecedented economic situation. 

Along with Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, Antonio Reynoso, Inez Barron, Jimmy Van Bramer, Brad Lander, Alan Maisel, and Ydanis Rodriguez, Constantinides is calling for the Big Apple’s world-famous arenas to finally pay property taxes once fans are allowed to attend games in person. 

In a letter to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, the nine members highlighted the inequitable system in which franchises valued at up to $3 billion have put little into city coffers despite relying on services like reliable mass transportation. They noted that this has cost billions upon billions that could have gone to education, sanitation and other vital services. Instead of holding them accountable, these teams have benefitted from tax breaks issued in fear they’ll leave the five boroughs. 

“When we can barely scrounge together a mere $9 million to fully save the New York City Community Schools program or afford the $106 million slashed from the Sanitation Department, we can’t fall for this bluff anymore,” they wrote in the letter. “This is an opportunity to prove these teams truly care about the schools they send players to visit or are invested in the mass transit they recommend people take to the game.” 

The lawmakers recommended the state legislature repeal the 1982 tax break on Madison Square Garden, which the IBO estimates saved the 34th Street arena from paying $41 million in taxes for the 2019 Fiscal Year. They also called on the city to renegotiate the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and the Barclays Center. Right now these entities merely pay PILOTs for the construction debt they owe — an arrangement highly scrutinized by the IRS and the public. 

Grodenchik’s District Leads Queens and NYC in Census Response Rates

City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik

Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik’s district is leading Queens and New York City in census response rates.  

“An accurate count is critical to the future of our city, so I have been encouraging participation in the 2020 Census across the community since last fall,” said Grodenchik. “I am so pleased to see strong results.”

Census data indicate that the average census response rate in New York City is 55%; Council District 23, which includes Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens, and Queens Village, has a response rate of 64%, the highest in Queens, and the second highest in New York City.

The deadline for the 2020 Census is now September 30 instead of October 31, so the councilmember is continuing his outreach efforts, which includes arranging for census representatives to be onsite providing assistance at the following events: a face mask distribution, on Thursday, September 3 at 9 a.m. at Key Food, 61-46 Springfield Boulevard; a Queens County Farm Museum tour, and a Senior nature walk in Alley Pond Park.

The last two events are by reservation only; for more information, call (718) 468-0137 or email [email protected].

De Blasio Announces Queens Expansion of NYC Care

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday launched NYC Care in Queens ahead of schedule, delivering on the Administration’s promise of guaranteed health care access for all New Yorkers citywide, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

Since its launch in August 2019 in the Bronx, and expansion to Brooklyn and Staten Island in January 2020, nearly 30,000 New Yorkers have enrolled and obtained access to high-quality health care across the city. 

“Our mission to bring affordable, quality healthcare to every New Yorker has never felt more urgent,” said de Blasio. “With NYC Care now available citywide, we are delivering on this promise and setting a nationwide model of what it means to provide low-cost, affordable health care.”

To expand NYC Care membership in neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19, the city will collaborate with 19 community-based organizations (CBOs) to enroll uninsured New Yorkers in the program. Outreach will be conducted in key languages, such as Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Benagli and Urdu. Selected through a request for proposal process in July, the CBOs will conduct outreach with a focus on Jackson Heights, North Corona, Flushing, Murray Hill, Whitestone, Elmhurst and South Corona in Queens.