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Know Your Rights
Source: Capital New York
Subject: Profiles of MRNY
Type: Media Coverage

Task force examining city’s tax break programs

A group of City Council members, left-leaning activists and business leaders are studying some of New York City’s tax break programs, such as the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program, which are set to expire in 2016.

The 11-member coalition, established by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, began meeting in January and will issue a report in December, her spokesman, Eric Koch, told Capital.

Officially called the “Task Force on Evaluating Economic Development Tax Expenditures,” the group brings together liberal activists such as Javier Valdes of Make the Road with budget wonks, such as Michael Dardia of the Citizens Budget Commission and James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Also on the task force are Seth Pinsky, who served as president of the city Economic Development Corp. under former mayor Michael Bloomberg and now works at RXR Reality; Marvin Markus of Goldman Sachs; and Hector Figueroa, president of the building workers union 32BJ SEIU, according to a roster Koch provided.

“The city gives tax breaks to achieve important goals like encouraging investment, helping to diversify our economy and creating good jobs and it’s critical for us to know how well they are working,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “I am proud of the accomplished group we’ve assembled to assist the Council in making sure that these breaks help grow our businesses big and small, improve our economy and create good-paying jobs for New Yorkers, rather than wasting taxpayer dollars.”

The makeup of the group ensures a healthy debate on the controversial issues surrounding a number of economic-development tax breaks.

“This group has the chance to ensure New York CIty is investing our tax dollars wisely, with tax expenditures that actually create jobs and stimulate economic growth,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, a Democrat who chairs the task force.

The group was formed in place of a commission Mark-Viverito initially announced last year to take aim at the city’s convoluted property-tax structure. Reforming it, which would require systematic changes on the state level, is a heavy political lift and, as such, has yet to be taken on by either the Council or the de Blasio administration.

Dan Garodnick, the other Council member on the task force, said, “New York City taxpayers deserve to know if we are getting any bang for our buck with economic development tax expenditures. There need to be clear metrics for evaluation, and ways to claw back benefits where commitments are not kept.”

Members of the task force are:

—Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras

—Councilman Dan Garodnick

—James Parrott, Fiscal Policy Institute

—Michael Dardia, Citizens Budget Commission

—Marilyn Marks Rubin, John Jay College

—Jonathan Bowles, Center for an Urban Future

—Hector Figueroa, 32BJ SEIU

Javier Valdes, Make the Road

—Seth Pinsky, RXR Realty

—Marvin Markus, Goldman Sachs

—Michael Simas, Partnership for NYC

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