Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota—the former MTA commish, Brooklyn Heights resident and BHB Ten 2012 member—believes it’s time to bring back New York City’s commuter tax, which asks for a few bucks from those who work in the city but live elsewhere.
In the 1990s, the tax contributed hundreds of millions of dollars into city services until it was stripped in 1999 by state Legislature—over strong objections by then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (for whom Lhota served as a top aide).
“A lot of people who live outside New York are protected every day by the police department and fire department and emergency services,” Lhota says. “There needs to be a way to have that discussion.”
Proponents say the commuter tax should be used to fund mass transit—Lhota is, of course, former chairman of the MTA—however, various news sources confirm that while it is popular within NYC… not so much in such outlying areas as Long Island, Westchester County and New Jersey.
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, offered a commuter-tax plan last year, and said it could generate $725 million a year for the city. Also in support of the commuter tax return: City Council Speaker & Democratic Mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.