Hearing on Tax Break Gets Time Out (Updated)
December 18th, 2007

That tax credit repeal for the Garden may no longer seem like such a slam-dunk.

Someone in City Hall may be backing down against a head-on charge by Cablevision to keep its $11 million annual tax exemption for Madison Square Garden.

Earlier this year, Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as other council members, said they wanted to cancel Cablevision’s property tax exemption for Madison Square Garden.

It seemed like the effort, at least symbolically, was going to jump off earlier this month at a hearing on a resolution introduced last year by Councilmember Helen Sears, which calls for the credit to end. Though the rescinding of the tax exemption must be approved in Albany, the stirring in City Hall was thought to possibly make way for movement upstate.

The legislation was slated for a hearing on Monday, but that hearing never happened.

Some think an extensive lobbying effort by Cablevision, who is said to be going from member to member in an attempt to block the tax credit effort, could be dribbling into some council members’ opposition (Basketball analogies are too good to resist).

So far, the committee hearing is just postponed until January 7, not cancelled, said Pat Barrientos, a spokesperson for Finance Committee Chairman David Weprin. The hearing, Barrientos added, was not cancelled at Weprin’s discretion, but the order came down from Quinn’s office.

Yesterday, though, Quinn said the Garden has been off the tax rolls for long enough – 25 years actually – and the city now needed the money.

Barrientos said Cablevision is lobbying nearly every member of the 51-member City Council.

“It’s a full court press,” said Barrientos. “Someone gave in, but David didn’t.”

Update: Quinn’s office said today the Garden’s hearing was postponed to make way for a hearing on a bill allowing the city to issue liens to property owners in default of their water bills.

By on December 18, 2007, 12:55 pm
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