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Last-Minute Replacement Proposed For 421-a Has Some Parties Fuming

The State Senate’s rules committee is trying to advance a replacement for 421-a

The city’s 421-a tax abatement program expired in January when REBNY and the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York failed to reach an agreement on a union-level wage for construction industry workers. But the darling tax break bill of developers the city over is not gone for good. TRD reports that a replacement bill showed up on Monday that did not require the two parties to reach a wage consensus—and not everyone is happy about it.

While REBNY’s busy celebrating the proposed bill as an achievement reached after months of discussions, the BCTC, by way of its president Gary LaBarbera, calls the bill "offensive" and the result of "Senate Republicans trying to appease REBNY." The new version of the tax abatement is known as 421-aa (421-b was already taken).

The bill was submitted by the State Senate’s rules committee and, according to TRD, and calls for an average minimum wage of $55/hour for construction workers on sites south of 96th Street giving way to more than 300 apartments. That would cover but a marginal amount of projects in the city. At the majority of sites the minimum wage would be just $15/hour through 2017, and continually climb to $21/hour in 2020.

421-aa also inflates the max assessment value of condos that can be built under tax exemptions from $65,000 to $75,000, and the new bill would only require that half of a new development’s condo units meet that. In the previous bill, all of the buildings units needed to meet that specification. If that's all greek, it means that 421-aa empowers developers to build luxury condos while still taking advantage of tax breaks.

Governor Andrew Cuomo expected a 421-a replacement bill to be submitted before the end of the New York legislative session on June 16. With less than a day left, the chances of 421-aa passing Cuomo’s desk and becoming law are meager, TRD notes.