PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Peekskill Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Please send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, Peekskill’s Common Council blocked a proposal to charge city residents a new tax to pick up their garbage. That was a wise decision. Well, it’s a new year and now the council seems in favor of a different kind of tax scheme. This one will give a special break to 28 co-op owners by cutting their property taxes 35 percent and guaranteeing a cap of 2 percent on higher taxes for the next 30 years. Would you take that deal if you own a home in Peekskill--a 35 percent tax cut and a 2 percent cap for 30 years? I bet you might. But this sweetheart deal only will be offered to those 28 owners living in the Peekskill Artists Loft on South Street and no one else.
The Artists Loft already has received 15 years of tax breaks, saving owners there about $700,000 in taxes. The new proposal will save them another $900,000, leaving the city $1.6 million short in tax payments. That’s money that causes everyone else’s taxes to go up to cover the difference. There is no free lunch when governments hand out tax breaks. There are many unanswered questions about this proposal. The city claims the Artists Loft is only legally required to pay $20,000 in taxes in 2016 after paying $104,000 in 2015 – how could that be? And why would the Loft owners agree to pay $65,000 if they only owe $20,000 as the city says?
The council says it has the power to give a 30-year guarantee that will cap the Loft owners tax increases at 2 percent annually – but what law gives the council the right to make that special deal for one group of 28 people? And if the council is going to hand out special tax breaks, what’s to stop them from cutting taxes for the ones they pick who claim to be in financial distress? The Artists Loft building is here now – if the current owners can’t make it, the bank will find new owners. There shouldn’t be special rules for special interests in Peekskill.
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