The mayor and the governor disagree on this issue. Recently, Mayor Bloomberg defended the policy saying, “There’s just no reason I know of why you shouldn’t do fingerprinting on food stamps as a prophylactic measure to ensure the public that the only people who are getting benefits that the public are paying for are those that deserve it.”
It is apparent that this issue is more about getting votes than being fiscally responsible. 1.8 million New York City residents receive the benefit. That’s a lot of votes, and a lot of room for waste, fraud and abuse if not administered properly.
You may be asking why I am concerned about the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse from the city and state budgets. From a state perspective, I am concerned because the less money the state has to give to the city, the less money the city gets from the state.
And from the city’s perspective, the more money that is squandered will lead to ever increasing budget deficits, which will lead to inevitably ever-increasing real estate taxes which have reached all-time highs as the percentage of gross revenue. This is notwithstanding the supposed correlation between real estate tax assessments and market value. We have seen this relationship abandoned when the city needs money. The city needs money, so real estate taxes go up.
We must implore all elected officials to be fiscally responsible. True line item budget cuts are unlikely so we must attempt to implement strategies to truly eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Pension reform is another huge area impacting our finances, but this is another topic for another day. Presently, we must try to keep the deficits to a minimum, which will reduce the upward pressure that is continually placed on our real estate tax obligations.
Robert Knakal is the chairman and founding partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services and in his career has brokered the sale of more than 1,175 properties, having a market value in excess of $7.8 billion.