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Stringer looks for savings to pay for virus impact

With Big Apple restaurants and bars now relying on takeout and delivery only and Broadway having gone dark, the city will lose $3.2 billion in taxes over the next six months, Comptroller Scott Stringer said today.

In order to protect vital services, Stronger said the city must figure out ways to save money and then set aside four percent of current agency spending, which would amount to roughly $1.43 billion.

Social service agencies like the Department of Health and the city’s public hospital network, NYC H+H, would be exempt from the budget siphoning. The savings would then be included in the mayor’s executive budget due later next month if needed.

Meanwhile, Stringer is also calling for additional city, state and federal measures to help businesses that are suffering the most as the virus spreads and the city is further shut down.

His suggestions include:

Having the state defer sales tax payments that are due for March 20 for hotels, restaurants and small storefront retail

Extending the city’s assistance program announced last week by the Department of Small Business Services to non-profits

Having the city waive all small business fines and fees

Having the federal government include an emergency small business grant like one that was created after 9/11 for Lower Manhattan

Reviewing waiving other tax payments as justified by ongoing developments.

“As we brace for the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must protect our children, our seniors, our small businesses, and the arts and cultural organizations that are core to our economy and our identity as a city,” said Stringer.

“We’re facing the possibility of a prolonged recession — we need to save now, before it’s too late, if we’re going to weather the downturn ahead. Once again, I’m urging the City to immediately instruct all City agencies to identify savings in their City tax levy-funded budgets, with certain exceptions for vital public health and social services, to be included in the Mayor’s Executive Budget.

“The vital services for our most vulnerable populations and institutions during lean times will depend on prudent, responsible budgeting today, as will the level of relief we as a City can help to deliver to the hotel, restaurant, entertainment, social service and retail workers who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. I stand ready to facilitate and assist our City’s response to this emergency with any powers within my authority.”

Additionally, with private economic forecasters saying there’s now a 50/50 chance of a recession, some projected losses include:

Hotels operating at 20 percent occupancy until at least the end of the fiscal year (June 30) with only gradual recovery in the first quarter of the next fiscal year

Restaurants sales declining by 80 percent

Real estate sales declining by 20 percent

Retail sales declining by 20 percent.

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