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Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Financial Issues

Published: Autumn 1999

COMPARATIVE STUDY OF 1997 OPERATING COSTS
In housing cooperatives and condominiums, owners each pay a monthly fee to cover their share of the cost of owning and operating the building. These charges can vary greatly from one building to another, depending on the level of service, the attentiveness of management--based on the policies set by the board--and, in cooperatives, the amount, interest rate and principle payments on the underlying mortgage and the property taxes on the building. Condominiums do not have underlying mortgages, and their unit owners each receive an individual property tax bill. Since these two items typically account for about half of the monthly charges in a cooperative, they must be considered if a realistic comparison is to be made between these two forms of home ownership.

To facilitate effective cost comparisons, CNYC annually publishes a Comparative Study of Operating Costs compiled from data in the financial statements of participating cooperatives and condominiums. This information is most helpful in determining whether your building is operating economically and efficiently.

CNYC is currently compiling the Comparative Study of 1998 Operating Costs--presenting data on hundreds of buildings in six categories--small cooperatives, lofts, East side cooperatives, West side cooperatives, larger cooperatives outside of Manhattan, and condominiums. Code numbers identify each participating building to ensure anonymity.

The Study analyzes all data on a per-room basis, beginning with the current assessment and mortgage figures for participating buildings, as well as the maintenance cost. It then lists amounts spent per room on wages, fuel, utilities, repairs and maintenance, insurance, management costs, administrative costs, water & sewer fees, property tax, and debt service. When possible, elevator maintenance and legal and accounting costs are each listed separately. The Study also presents summary statistics, calculating the averages and median for each item, and the average portion of total operating budget devoted to each category.

Each CNYC member and subscriber will receive its own copy of the Comparative Study of 1998 Operating Costs. Additional copies can be purchased from CNYC for $5.

CHARTER REVISION PROPOSALS
MAY POSE THREATS TO PROPERTY TAX PAYERS

The New York City Charter Revision Commission has produced a number of proposals which will be presented to the voters for their approval in November. Very tight restraints on the ability of the City Council to levy new taxes will leave the property tax as the one ready source of funding. If passed, the Charter revisions could force a return to the situation of the late 1980s when the City used substantial property taxes increases every year to meet its fiscal needs. A much sounder fiscal policy exists today, with the aggregate property tax levy maintained at a stable point for the last six years.

Please do not fail to vote on November 2nd. Please carefully consider the proposals of the Charter Revision Commission and cast your vote effectively on these issues.

BUILDING EMPLOYEES' THREE-YEAR CONTRACT
EXPIRES IN APRIL 2000

Every three years, at midnight on the 20th of April, comes the expiration of the contract between Local 32B-32J of the Building Service Employees International Union and the owners of residential apartment buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc. (RAB) is the bargaining representative for the majority of buildings in New York City in negotiating the successor contract. CNYC is represented on the Board of Directors of the RAB by its executive director, Mary Ann Rothman, who has been a member of the negotiating team for the last six contracts.

As in years past, every effort will be made to reach an equitable agreement in a timely manner. However, since union leadership is new this year, we must prepare for an arduous negotiation, with strong demands from the union for increases in wages and benefits. To help members prepare for the negotiations, CNYC has scheduled three meetings--one on December 2,1999, and another on February 23, 2000, to brainstorm for provisions to improve the new contract and to help buildings prepare their residents to cope with a strike if negotiations break down. The meeting on April 18, 2000, will help members with last-minute preparations.

A detailed introduction to labor issues will be featured in the Winter issue of this Newsletter, and in the spring CNYC will revise and distribute to members its booklet entitled In the Event of a Strike. . . Preparedness information will also be provided on CNYC's World Wide Web Information Center. Once agreement is reached, the CNYC Website will publish the details.

In a full-service cooperative, labor costs typically consume a fifth to a quarter of the budget. Thus the provisions and the wage schedules negotiated in this contract will have a strong impact. For a preview of contract issues, and for answers to your questions about dealing with your building employees, join representatives of the RAB at their afternoon workshop at CNYC's 19th Annual Housing Conference.

 
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