Reinstitution of a NYC non-resident commuter tax in 2013 makes no $ense


| lpenner@queenscourier.com |

How disappointing that the most potentially credible 2013 Republican primary mayoral candidate former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota who also served as budget director and deputy mayor under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (serving from 1994 to 2001) has recently joined 2013 Democratic primary candidates NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, NYC Comptroller John Lui, former 2009 mayoral candidate and previous NYC Comptroller William Thompson along with former 2001 Democratic primary mayoral candidate and previous Bay Ridge, Brooklyn NYC Councilmember Sal Albanese to support consideration of future proposals which would reintroduce a non-NYC resident commuter tax. I wonder if any of the other potential 2013 GOP Primary Mayoral candidates including businessman John Catsimatidis, nonprofit executive director George McDonald, Reverend A.G. Bernard along with Democrats — former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith are brave enough to come out against this proposal? If so, they would stand head and shoulders above their rivals in understanding the complex nature of how this tax would impact everyone’s local economy. Carrion and Smith need permission from three of the five GOP NYC County leaders to be able to run in the 2013 Republican Party primary for mayor.

This old recycled idea periodically proposed by many others missed the potential economic consequences after implementing.

In today’s global economy, boundaries which end at the city line between NYC, Nassau County and others mean very little. We are all neighbors and thankfully there has never been a Berlin Wall between us.

The United States is in economic competition against other nations. Within the USA, residents of the Northeastern states compete against other state coalitions based in the geographic South, Rocky Mountains, West and other regions. Our metropolitan New York area comprising NYC, Long Island, northeast New Jersey, Hudson Valley and parts of southwestern Connecticut are in competition against other metropolitan areas around the nation and world. I work in NYC. My wife and I travel around the five boroughs enjoying shopping, dining, going to the movies, visiting museums and taking advantage of the diverse different neighborhoods.

Each weekday several hundred thousand Long Island and other suburban residents travel to jobs in NYC — the economic engine of our metropolitan region. Many others enjoy sporting events, the theater, museums, restaurants and shopping. A growing number of NYC residents have become reverse commuters to jobs in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties along with New Jersey and Connecticut. Other NYC residents attend sporting events, shop, dine and visit other places on Long Island. It is naive to believe that NYC can survive economically in today’s ever changing technology and global economy without Long Island and the rest of Metropolitan New York. The suburbs around the Big Apple are equally dependent on the success of NYC.

Residents of Long Island and NYC in the end have much in common. We should work together as neighbors and not adversaries. Reintroduction of a commuter tax on one set of non-residents could trigger an economic tariff war among neighbors. With the financial crises on Wall Street followed by our economic recession several years ago, thousands of commuters residing outside of NYC lost their jobs. These jobs have never come back. Between the downsizing of many Wall Street firms along with conversion of many offices and older buildings in the financial district into residential units, these loss of jobs have become permanent. As a result, the reintroduction of any nonresident commuter tax will not bring in the same level of revenues as was the case during the 1990s when it was last in place. It could result in a retaliatory commuter tax by the impacted suburban county or neighboring state on NYC residents. At the end of the day, everyone could lose with implementation of any non-NYC resident commuter tax.