Readers Write: Expect renewed push for commuter tax

The Island Now

Watch in the coming months as New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, with the support of city Comptroller Scott Stringer, city Public Advocate Letitia James and virtually all other City Council, state Assembly and state Senate members from the Big Apple renew their annual call for reintroduction of a non-New York City resident commuter tax.  

How will de Blasio and company find the monies to pay back his union supporters? 

Many of the 300,000 city municipal employees have been working without contracts for years. They are obviously going to ask for some retroactive back wage increases which are worth up to $7 billion dollars. 

Residents of Great Neck, New Hyde Park, Herricks, Williston Park, Garden City, Manhasset and Roslyn along with our neighbors living in other communities all over Nassau, Suffolk and other suburban counties are a new potential revenue stream to help de Blasio and company pay for the costs. 

He also has to find new revenue sources to fill a looming multibillion dollar shortfall in next years municipal budget.

Will our own state Assemblymember Michelle Schimel and state Sen. Jack Martins protect us from de Blasio and company picking our pockets? 

Will Schimel be a profile in courage and convince her fellow suburban and upstate members along with Speaker Sheldon Silver to stop this from becoming law? Martins can usually count on Republican state Senate leader Dean Skelos to protect our financial interests.

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 New York City, Nassau County and others mean very little. We are all neighbors and thankfully there has never been a Berlin Wall between us.    

Our metropolitan New York area comprising New York City, 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 New York City. 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 New York City – the economic engine of our metropolitan region. 

Many others enjoy sporting events, the theater, museums, restaurants and shopping. A growing number of city residents have become reverse commuters to jobs in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties along with New Jersey and Connecticut. 

It is naive to believe that New York City 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 New York City.

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 and the economic recession several years ago, thousands of commuters residing outside of New York City 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, the loss of these 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 Nassau County, other impacted suburban counties or neighboring states on New York City residents. At the end of the day, everyone could lose with implementation of any non-New York City resident commuter tax.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

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