Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio expressed divergent views about trying to woo fleeing wealthy New Yorkers to return to the city.
“I literally talk to people all day long who are in their Hamptons house who also lived here . . . or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, ‘You gotta come back,’ ” Cuomo related. He even offered to take them out for a drink or to cook dinner for them.
“No luck; they’re not returning. Instead, they’re thinking: ‘If I stay there, I pay a lower income tax, because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge,’” he added.
Between March and May of this year, some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods have had a 40% decrease in residents because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Democrats in the state legislatures have proposed a billionaires’ tax, an ultra-millionaires’ tax, and other levies on the rich to plug Albany’s $30 billion two-year budget hole. Many presume this will cause the rich to permanently flee the city, taking their tax money with them.
Cuomo noted that New York, where “1 percent of the population pays 50 percent of the taxes,” has been steadily losing residents.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, in a Wednesday morning press availability, seemed to be in denial of the recent abandonment of the city by the upper class.
Ben Evansky from FOX News posed a question to the mayor concerning the wealthy New Yorkers who are abandoning the city. “Governor Cuomo was discussing ways to try and persuade rich friends, millionaires, to come back to the city. Is the City keeping track of how many residents have left since the pandemic and the crime wave? I’m hearing a lot of anecdotal evidence … Is the city keeping track of this?
De Blasio’s answer was a stark contrast to the governor’s.
“Yes, but I want to put things in a very quick perspective. We are having a problem in the last few months. There’s been an uptick in crime, but it is a problem directly related to the coronavirus. Just as I said, you’re going to see the crime situation turn around because the NYPD is employing new strategies, working more closely with communities, because the summer will be over soon, because the coronavirus crisis will be over soon. So, I do not hear a lot of people making decisions based on that. I think there’s a pretty strong understanding out there, people are paying attention to, this is a temporary reality caused by a perfect storm of problems. But the issue of folks who left because of the virus, I think you’ll see a certain number of people who leave and after an appropriate time, after there’s a vaccine, will come back. I think you’ll see some people who maybe decide they want a different kind of lifestyle. I think a lot of those people will be replaced by other people coming in. For decades now, as people have left New York City they’ve been replaced, and then some, by more and more people coming in.
“So, I think that pattern will start again over the next couple of years, but to the point about the folks out in the Hamptons, I have to be very clear about this. We do not make decisions based on the wealthy few. I was troubled to hear this concept that because wealthy people have a set of concerns about the city that we should accommodate them, that we should build our policies and approaches around them. That’s not how it works around here anymore. This city is for New Yorkers. This city is for people who live here, work here, fight to make this place better, fight through this crisis. So, there’s a lot of New Yorkers who are wealthy, who are true believers in New York City and will stand and fight with us. And there are some who may be fair-weather friends, but they will be replaced by others. But we must build our policies around working people. And if our federal government fails us and doesn’t provide a stimulus we should immediately return in Albany to the discussion of a tax on wealthy New Yorkers. Because as we see from the stock market, while everyone else is suffering, the rich are getting richer, and it’s time to look that in the face and say, you know what, wealthy New Yorkers can afford to pay a little bit more so that everyone else can make it through this crisis. That’s where this conversation should be centered.”