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PR- 076-04
April 7, 2004


Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Law

“The bill before me today is Introductory No. 302, sponsored by the Chair of the Finance Committee, Council Member David Weprin.  This bill authorizes the Commissioner of Finance, on behalf of the city, to conduct the sale of tax liens through March 1, 2006.

“The sale of tax liens in New York City began in 1996 and has been conducted annually on delinquent property taxes and property-related charges.  Since the City instituted the sale of tax liens, the Finance Department has collected more than $1.7 billion in delinquent charges through lien sales.  In 2003, the Finance Department collected $86 million through the sale of tax liens.  Just as important, the Finance Department collected $80 million during the 60-day noticing period that preceded the lien sale, thanks to an unprecedented outreach campaign conducted by the Finance Department, the Department of Environmental Protection, and several City Council Members.  It is always our goal to collect outstanding tax debt through voluntary payments rather than by selling liens.
“I should remind everyone that Introductory No. 302 does not authorize the Finance Department to sell or foreclose on a person’s property.  Rather, the bill, like its predecessors, allows the City to sell its right to collect property tax debt to a private entity.  Lien sales help the City maintain equity in the real property tax system by assuring that conscientious and timely taxpayers are not overburdened and forced to pay for those individuals who disregard their tax obligations.  Lien sales also permit the City to continue to reduce its role as landlord to delinquent properties and remove the City from the business of foreclosing on delinquent properties.
“To create more equity in the system, it is my hope that the City Council will pass legislation that I recently proposed that would permit the Finance Department to sell liens on properties that are up to date on their property taxes but are severely delinquent on their water and sewer charges.  These severe delinquencies force every other taxpayer to assume this burden through higher water and sewer rates.
“I would like to thank Council Member Weprin for his assistance on Introductory No. 302.  I would also like to thank the Department of Finance Commissioner Martha Stark and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Christopher Ward and their staff for their success and continued efforts.”


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958

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