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Public defenders stop collecting property taxes as city's education budget remains in doubt

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Syle Moloney

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New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Treasury Commissioner Preston Niblack on Saturday, August 13. In light of the city’s charter and an ongoing legal battle over the Department of Education’s (DOE) budget, he does not plan to sign the fiscal 202 property tax warrant at this time.

Following the recent state Supreme Court ruling in Williams v. City Of New York, the administration has in the past complied with the city charter by filing improperly executed writs without the signatures of public supporters. Confirmed not. Responsible for “investigating and attempting to resolve” public complaints.

“My office has received public complaints from New Yorkers expressing concern and objection to the 2011 education budget cuts, including the administration’s decision to revise the 2011 education budget before submitting it to the Council for adoption. includes complaints about failure to meet with the Commission on Education Policy,” Williams said. “As a public advocate for New York City, I will investigate these complaints and confirm that formal and informal attempts to resolve the issue of fiscal 2013 education budget cuts are continually being rolled out. I have an obligation,” Williams wrote in the letter.

He went on to say, “I can reassure you of my commitment to work efficiently to resolve these issues, including the signing of the Fiscal Year 23 Tax Warrant, but a section of the New York City Charter Pursuant to 1518, a property tax writ filed on June 13, 2022 must be signed by the public regarding the adopted budget and accompanying tax writ under Section 24 of the City of New York Charter. Do not jeopardize my responsibility to properly “investigate and otherwise attempt to resolve” any complaint received. “

On the other hand, the city’s property tax collection is linked to its annual budget process. As the City’s Finance Commissioner explained in March 2022, as part of the City Council’s budget and oversight hearings on the 2023 budget reserve, “the Treasury will spend more than $44 billion annually in property taxes, business taxes, and fines. and other charges.”

Niblack continued, “Before collecting property tax revenues, the Treasury must first assess more than 1 million assets worth a total of about $1.4 trillion. We are releasing a provisional appraisal property role, called the Provisional Appraisal Property Role, which evaluates properties based on their status and condition as of January 5th of each year. “

The Public Advocate is one of the city officials who must approve the final details before proceeding with the property tax warrant process. According to the city’s finance department, a tax writ is the equivalent of a civil judgment against a property owner and protects New York State’s interests and priority in recovering unpaid tax liabilities. The City will file tax warrants with the appropriate New York State County Clerk’s Office and the New York State Department of State, and it will become a public record. A tax writ filed creates a lien on real and personal property and may:

  • Allowing the government to seize and sell real and private property,
  • allow the government to garnish wages or other income,
  • affect the government’s ability to buy or sell personal property; or
  • Affects a property owner’s ability to obtain credit.

Residents can search for tax warrants using the New York State Tax Warrant Lookup Tool.

Meanwhile, the full text of the letter sent by Public Advocates to the Adams administration is pasted below and can be downloaded here.

“RE: 2023 Property Tax Warrant

Dear Mayor Adams, Chairman Adams, Commissioner Nisblack

On August 10, 2022, I signed and returned the tax writs for 2021 and 2022. However, in accordance with my obligations under Section 24 of the New York City Charter, I am unable to sign the tax warrants for 2023 at this time due to the ongoing review of voter complaints regarding the adopted budget for 2023.

My office has received public complaints from New Yorkers expressing concern and objection to the FY2011 education budget cuts, including the need for the executive to submit the FY2011 education budget for adoption by the Board. including complaints about the failure to meet with the Education Policy Panel. As a public advocate for New York City, I have a duty to investigate these complaints and to continue to track formal and informal attempts to resolve the 2023 education budget cut problem.

We are committed to working to resolve these issues efficiently, including by signing the Fiscal Year 2023 Tax Writ, but we are unable to comply with the New York City Council’s obligation to sign the Property Tax Writ filed on June 13, 2022. My duty under Section 1518 of the City Charter is to properly “investigate and attempt to resolve” complaints from the public regarding the adopted budget and accompanying tax edicts under Section 24 of the City Charter. Risking my responsibility. (New York City Charter §24(f)(4)).

Therefore, as the Court made clear in its recent NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams v. City of New York, Index # 152366/2021, filing tax writs without my signature is prohibited pursuant to Section 1518. increase.

Given the passage of time on these matters, I would like to set up a meeting with you as soon as possible so that we can resolve these complaints and sign the FY23 property tax warrant.

Thank you in advance and please contact First Deputy Public Attorney Nick E. Smith at to discuss and make arrangements for this. I look forward to discussing these issues and working together to address the needs of all voters.


Juman D. Williams

New York City Public Advocate