Mayor Eric Adams firmly stated on Friday that raising taxes was not a viable option to address New York City’s growing expenses, including the migrant crisis. Despite City Comptroller Brad Lander advocating for “new revenues” through tax hikes to address fiscal challenges, Mayor Adams disagreed with the idea.
Comptroller’s Office Proposals for Revenue Generation
In a report released this week by the Comptroller’s Office, a series of proposals were presented to generate $1 billion dollars in annual revenue for the city. These proposals included increasing personal income tax for the top 1% of income earners and implementing a surcharge on pied-à-terre or second homes. The report also suggested removing the tax exemption on Madison Square Gardens, which currently applies when hosting professional hockey and basketball games.
When questioned about the Comptroller’s revenue-raising report, Mayor Adams expressed his disagreement with the notion of solely relying on increased taxes on New Yorkers to solve the city’s problems. He stated, “If we are going to say, let’s just raise taxes on New Yorkers, if that’s the answer to our problem, I just don’t agree with that.”
Need for New Revenues and Budget Management
The Comptroller’s report acknowledges the need for new revenues to address future budget gaps while highlighting the importance of a long-term savings plan. It emphasizes that expanding services to address affordability concerns and making investments in economic recovery after the pandemic would require additional revenues.
The suggested tax hikes proposed in the report would require statutory changes in Albany, which Governor Kathy Hochul has already expressed unwillingness to support. City Council members raised skepticism about the proposals and questioned the motives behind Lander’s push for tax increases. Councilman Joe Borelli criticized the idea, emphasizing the importance of reducing unnecessary expenses, while Councilman Bob Holden commented on the progressive nature of the proposals and their potential impact on taxpayers and the city’s budget.
Response to Migrant Crisis and Federal Aid
When asked about using tax increases to address expenses related to the migrant crisis, Mayor Adams highlighted that it was not a sustainable solution. He emphasized the need for support from the national government and called for federal assistance. The Adams administration applied for more than $650 million in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but has received only $38.5 million thus far.
Both Mayor Adams and Comptroller Lander projected significant costs associated with the ongoing surge of migrants entering the city. Adams’ top budget official warned that the current budget allocation of $4.3 billion might need to be updated due to the increasing number of asylum seekers. Lander estimated that the city would spend approximately $1 billion more than previously forecasted, reaching $4 billion by June 2024, surpassing Adams’ estimate of $2.9 billion for the same period.