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Glen Cove City Council proposes freeze of residential taxes; hike for business

Glen Cove City Council members and city staff

Glen Cove City Council members and city staff hold discussions on Tuesday night, July 21, 2015, at City Hall. Credit: Newsday / David Olson

The tax rate for Glen Cove homeowners would be frozen in 2016 under the city's preliminary budget, but businesses would see a tax hike erasing this year's commercial tax cut.

A public hearing on the document is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Glen Cove City Hall.

The budget's assumptions depend on the city receiving $3.5 million from the sale of property to Uniondale-based developer RXR for a massive waterfront residential and commercial development, and on hundreds of thousands of dollars of projected building-permit fees from the project, city Controller Sal Lombardi said.

Mayor Reginald Spinello said at a pre-council meeting Tuesday night that this revenue, additional money from waterfront land sales, and future tax revenue from the development "will in the end turn our finances around."

But even Councilman Timothy Tenke, a mayoral ally, said he was "nervous" about so much riding on the waterfront project.

Spinello acknowledged if waterfront-related revenue fails to materialize in 2016, "then you'll have a big tax increase."

Lombardi said Wednesday that the waterfront assumptions are sound because the city and RXR are so heavily invested in the project going forward.

The city is increasing commercial taxes because of a drop in the assessed valuation of commercial property, Lombardi said. The 0.95 percent tax hike would add $89 to the bill of a business property valued at $500,000, but combined with last year's tax cut, the net increase over two years is only $9, he said.

Councilman and mayoral candidate Anthony Gallo called on the city to scale back planned spending increases to freeze commercial taxes and reverse the 2015 1.17-percent residential-tax increase.

Increasing taxes hurts existing businesses and makes it harder to attract new ones, and last year's tax hike added yet another burden to an already struggling middle class, he said.

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