2009-06-05 / Columnists

From The Councilman's Desk

No More Nickel-and-Diming Taxpayers …
Commentary By Councilman Eric Ulrich

ERIC ULRICH ERIC ULRICH The people of Rockaway, Broad Channel, and all New Yorkers, are experiencing stressful economic times. Adding to the stress is government's knee-jerk reaction in tough times to nickel-anddime the hardworking taxpayers of this City in an attempt to balance the budget on their backs. Recently, an idea was proposed to the City Council that would have imposed a five-cent tax on each plastic bag used by shoppers. The idea that a hardworking taxpayer would have to spend an additional nickel for each plastic bag he or she uses to carry food home from the supermarket is ridiculous. That is why I am vigorously opposed to this "Food Tax" and all other tax increases. These nickels should not be picked from taxpayers' pockets for more wasteful government spending.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, there is another attempt to try and reinstate the city sales tax on clothing and shoes under $110. This proposed tax increase comes on the heels of a recent 7 percent increase in property taxes (passed before I took office) and coincides with an upcoming 12.9 percent hike in water rates. I am fighting tooth and nail to stop these and all other tax increases in their tracks.

In an effort to stop this tax and spend cycle, I am proud to note that my first piece of bi-partisan legislation (Intro. 961) would amend the New York City Charter to require a 2/3 supermajority of City Council votes before any increase in taxes could be passed. This means that, instead of a majority of 26 votes, 34 out of 51 Council Members would have to agree to the tax increase - 8 more votes than is currently required. Taxpayers need to be able to save and invest in their futures, and this bill will help them achieve their goals.

Along with reducing taxes, we must invigorate our local economy by building strong small businesses and getting people back to work. To help achieve this goal, the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has programs that provide resources to established businesses and start-ups alike in order to help them grow and prosper. For example, SBS has a program called "FastTrac" that educates entrepreneurs on marketing, finance, hiring employees and operating a business in a difficult economy. SBS also helps build small businesses through its "NYC Business Express" program, which helps businesses obtain vital information on licensing, permits, taxes and incentives.

For more information on these programs, please visit the NYC Business Solution Center located at 168-46 91 Avenue, Jamaica, N.Y. 11432, call 718- 577-2150 or visit NYC.gov and select "Small Business Services."

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