Queens Lawmakers on the Move September 24, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Dromm’s Bills to Protect Homeowners Pass

City Councilmember and Finance Chair Daniel Dromm’s (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) bills that will help city property owners keep their homes during these unprecedented times, Intros 2039-A and 1225-A, passed in the New York City Council on Wednesday.

Intro 2039-A would retroactively extend the filing deadline for an initial or a renewal application from March 16, 2020 to July 15, 2020 for various real property tax exemption/abatement programs that were due in calendar year 2020. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City like a bolt of lightening in late March of this year,” he said. “Mid-March was one of the most frightening periods of this city’s history as we were awaiting the approaching storm, and contending with a virus that almost completely unknown to us. Amidst the fear and confusion of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many homeowners missed these program deadlines. This is an understandable oversight–but it is one that could have had dire consequences for the many working families who rely on these exemptions and abatements to keep afloat financially. This retroactive extension will keep homeownership affordable for many people with lower incomes.” 

Intro 1225-A would require the Finance Department to make best efforts to collect the name, telephone number, and email address of every owner of real property in the city, or of an equivalent representative, and to maintain such information in a database used for purposes of administering property taxes. 

“As a councilmember, I find it extremely frustrating that the New York City Department of Finance asks us to reach out to our constituents about critical issues like the lien sale or renewing property tax exemptions without providing phone numbers or email addresses. Right now, all my office can do is send another snail mail letter. In many instances, we can save low income and middle class homeowners from the terrible experience of having a lien placed on their property simply by notifying them in a timely manner,” Dromm said. “We are in the middle of a pandemic and housing insecurity is on the rise. As elected officials, we must do everything in our power to help homeowners during these extremely challenging time. This common-sense effort does just that.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Calls for Increased Funding for Schools and Childcare

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx) released a statement advocating for additional school funding, as schools begin to re-open despite parent and teacher concerns around COVID-19 safety protocols and staffing in many of our cities schools:

“After hearing from parents and school staff across the district, it’s clear that there’s significant evidence to suggest that schools are not safe to re-open. Poorly ventilated and unsanitized classrooms, ambiguous or ineffective health screening, COVID testing and contact tracing protocols, and severe staffing shortages, on top of COVID cases in at least 55 schools, all indicate we are not ready to re-open. At the same time, working parents desperately need relief from full-time childcare and work. But we do not actually have to choose between unsafe schools and childcare for parents. I’m calling on Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to raise revenue to fund universal childcare programs, significantly increase staffing at schools, and fund the infrastructure improvements, including ventilation, that our school buildings need to be safe. In June, the Mayor pushed for a budget that cut more than $700M from schools, but cut almost nothing meaningful from NYPD. The state still owes NYC schools $3.9B in Foundation Aid funding. We are in this situation because we have balanced our budgets on the backs of students for decades. 

Staff at NYC schools have worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to provide the best education they can with very few resources. They deserve all of our gratitude and appreciation, but they also deserve the resources they need to succeed. Our kids and communities deserve for us to get this right.”

Constantinides Introduces Trio of Climate Bills 

Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) introduced on Wednesday a trio of bills that will continue New York City’s position as the leader in sustainability and resiliency in the United States. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic, the wildfires on the West Coast, and the historic Atlantic hurricane season are a constant reminder we have to address the economic and public health catastrophic climate change has created,” said Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Today’s bills are another step toward cleaning our air, protecting us against extreme weather, and holding corporations accountable for their emissions.”

The legislation comes at the heart of Climate Week, and represents the Environmental Protection Committee’s initiative to Reclaim Our Health and Restore Our Environment. 

Constantinides’ initiative comes in response to the outsized role pollution played in accelerating COVID-19’s devastation in New York City. 

Meng Releases Statement on Warning of Cutting Census Short

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) issued the following statement after a news report emerged that Census Bureau officials had warned that cutting the census schedule short would lead to “fatal” data problems and create the impression of “politically manipulated results” with the total headcount.

“With eight days left to ensure an accurate and full count of all people in the United States, we risk a decade’s worth of consequences from bad and incomplete data if census counting operations are completed on September 30,” said Meng. “No matter how you look at the current situation, all signs point to the Trump administration’s efforts to erase immigrants’ voices from our country. From the citizenship question to a presidential memo that would have blocked immigrants from being counted toward each states’ number of seats in the House, this administration is relentless in its drive to achieve this goal. It’s sickening and is simply un-American. I urge Census Director Dillingham and Commerce Secretary Ross to heed the advice of those at the Census Bureau who know how important an accurate and total count is. As I’ve stated countless times before, there are no do-overs with the census; a mistake is a 10-year mistake.”  

The Census Bureau is slated to end its count on September 30.