Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

New York City Council Stated Meeting Report

Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.

STATED MEETING - June 25, 2003

Quote of the Day:
"It was like a hit team came down and shot up small businesses without a warning." - Councilmember Michael Nelson on a rash of tickets to business owners who put illegal information on their awnings.

Meeting Summary:
Responding to complaints that the city is issuing too many tickets, the New York City Council approved a six-month moratorium on citations to store and restaurant owners who violate the law with illegal awnings.

Under a law passed in 1961, store awnings can only include the name and address - no phone number, logos, or descriptions allowed - and the letters cannot be more than 12 inches tall.

The council estimates that 90 percent of the city's storeowners are in violation and wants time to update the law.

Business owners who violate the law can be fined up to $2,500 and complain they are being targeted in a ticket blitz to help balance the city's budget. (For more read the Summer of Summonses.) In the first three months of the year, 1,211 violations were filed, according to the city's Department of Buildings. In 2002, 1,736 violations were issued during the entire year.

The council passed the moratorium (Intro 305-A) by a vote of 47 to 1. Only Queens Councilmember Helen Sears voted against it.

On June 24, the council approved an increase in the personal income tax for the wealthiest New Yorkers. Individuals earning more than $100,000 a year and couples making more than $150,000 a year will see their income tax increase to 3.65 to 4.25 percent. Those making more than $500,000 a year will pay 4.45 percent.

The tax hike is part of a budget negotiated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the State Legislature in May. As part of a $2.7 billion aid package from Albany, the city agreed to raise sales taxes, personal income taxes, and institute a surcharge on absentee landlords.

The vote was 46 to 3, with the council's three Republicans - James Oddo, Andrew Lanza, and Dennis Gallagher - voting "no."

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for June 27 when the council is expected to approve a new city budget. For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight.