Mayor Defends Increased Fines and Penalties as Revenue Raisers

Property owners have long believed that many City fines and penalties (Sanitation summonses, in particular) were issued with the City’s budget needs in mind more than public safety concerns. Now, we have apparent confirmation of this belief from none other than the Mayor himself.

According to City and State First Read (2/25/13), Mayor Bloomberg was responding to a report by Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio which blasted City Hall for targeting outer borough small businesses with onerous fines.

“Bloomberg said the small business inspections are “designed to keep you safe,” and explained that the number of violations found outside of Manhattan is because there are disproportionately more small businesses in the outer boroughs. He added that fines are still preferable to raising taxes. [emphasis added]”

The last line indicates that City Hall has made a conscious decision to raise revenue through fines rather than a broad-based increase in taxes. City Hall is zeroing in on property owners as a revenue target not just through increased fines and penalties. Property taxes and water and sewer charges continue to escalate, of course. And costs which should be public burdens, such as the installation of backflow preventers to safeguard the water system, are also being foisted on property owners.

Needless to say, increased fines and penalties, municipal levies and mandated expenses all increase the cost of providing housing in New York City in direct contravention of City Hall’s stated goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing.

                                                  – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association (RSA)

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)