21 Aug 2014
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Co-op President Gets Heat At Meeting With Finance Commish

Police called as northeast Queens co-op shareholders looking for tax valuation relief pack CB7 gathering in Flushing Thursday night

Co-op President Gets Heat At Meeting With Finance Commish Co-op President Gets Heat At Meeting With Finance Commish Co-op President Gets Heat At Meeting With Finance Commish Co-op President Gets Heat At Meeting With Finance Commish

The increasingly heated issue of co-op and condo tax valuations again took center stage during an appearance by city Department of Finance Commissioner David Frankel hosted by Community Board 7 in Flushing on Thursday night. 

With frustration mounting among co-op shareholders — particularly those in northeast Queens hit with initial property valuation hikes up to 100 percent — emotions boiled over as Frankel ended an hour-long presentation on the most-recent tax assessments.

Toward the end of Frankel's remarks, Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village Association, objected to what he called the commissioner's "lack of specifics" in terms of the methodology used by the city to determine the value of condos and co-ops.

"All we wanted to know is how you justified such high tax valuation increases in a time when co-op values are declining," Friedrich said. "He [Frankel] gave us nothing."

At one point, according to Friedrich, CB7 chairman Eugene Kelty summoned police officers to escort the longtime co-op president out of the Union Plaza Care Centre in Flushing — the venue for last night's "un-sanctioned" community meeting.

"It was Gene Kelty who was disruptive and disrespectful," said CB7 board member Warren Schreiber, also president of Bay Terrace Co-op No. 1 and the Bay Terrace Civic Association. "Bob Friedrich should have been allowed to have his voice heard."

However, another attendee at last night's gathering, who did not want to be indentified, saw it a different way.

"Kelty's behavior may not have been appropriate, but Bob's was worse," said the source.

Kelty did not return a call for comment.

The fireworks came days after Frankel went before a City Council budget hearing to face tough questions regarding what many area elected officials, co-op presidents and shareholders feel is a flawed tax assessment calculation system.

Partly in response to an outcry from co-op and condo groups, DOF officials agreed earlier this month to of 50 percent. 

However, that concession did little placate co-op presidents like Schreiber in Bay Terrace. 

"It's actually really insulting. If he really wanted to pick an number out of a hat, he could have used the 6 percent cap for Class 1 properties," Schreiber said, referring to the city's tax designation for single-family homes.

Though like many other co-op presidents, Schreiber has an appeal pending with the city — he argued that even if the tax assessments were completely rolled back, the association would still have to fork over 25 percent of the savings to a certiorari attorney trained to take such cases.

"Those fees would definitely be passed onto to shareholders in the form of higher maintenance fees," he said.

Meanwhile, as the 2011-2012 fiscal year approached, Friedrich said he felt there was only one feasible avenue left for co-op and condo owners facing down higher property tax bills — the courts.

"We believe a lawsuit is the only way to reveal the flawed methodology behind these increases," Friedrich said.

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