Friday, November 07, 2008

City Council Attax

Just when you might have thought that the city council was missing a very important piece of anatomy, the moribund body appears to have woken up with a stiffened spine. As the NY daily News reports: "Empowered by the vote extending term limits, City Council members are gearing up for an unprecedented fight against Mayor Bloomberg's tax hike plans. One lawmaker threatened to sue to force Bloomberg to mail out the $400 homeowner rebates. Others accused him of inflating budget shortfalls to manipulate the public. "If you are going to ask me to rely on your overly negative numbers to reach into the pockets of New Yorkers, that doesn't work for me," warned Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn)."

Hip, hip, hooray! Now let's see if this is a permanent posture that resists the inevitable mayoral pressure. It does appear, however, that there's a mounting move to confront Bloomberg on all of the tax fronts: "You can't tax your way out of an economic downturn," said Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-Staten Island), who is considering suing Bloomberg over the rebates.The mayor can't raise property taxes without the Council. Whether he can eliminate rebates without their consent "is something that is being explored," his spokesman said."

Now let's hope that the legislature finally gets it-and by all means can the plastic bag tax as well. What we're seeing, though, is response from the homeowner council reps, and it's unclear that they encompass a majority of the body-in spite of the News' following observation: "Bloomberg faces an uphill fight to win approval on his tax plans after bruising his relationship with the Council last month during the term limits debate."

As we've been saying all along, this fiscal confrontation sets the stage for the next election cycle and, we believe, increases the mayor's vulnerability to a challenge if he's on the ballot next year. The erosion of the mayor's appeal-especially post-Obama-has already begun and will continue to spiral downhill with more cuts and tax proposals.