BY JENNIFER SMITH FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is begging wealthy New Yorkers to return to the city to save it from economic ruin while fighting off calls from other lawmakers to raise their taxes, a move he fears could permanently drive the top 1 percent out of the city.
Thousands of New York City residents fled Manhattan and Brooklyn earlier this year when the city was the COVID-19 epicenter of the world.
Many flocked to their second homes in the Hamptons or upstate, while others rented or bought new properties, abandoning their expensive city apartments.
A man washes a Mercedes G- Class on a deserted street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Many of New York City’s wealthiest residents left the city in March and have not returned
Retail on the UES has taken a hit along with the rest of the city. The state of NY is now staring down the barrel of a $30billion deficit over the next two years
Now, six months on with no end to the national nightmare in sight, many are laying down permanent roots. While New York has overcome its battle against the virus, the rest of the country – where lockdown rules have been far more relaxed – is seeing a resurgence.
It is preventing New York City from resuming its normal activity because Cuomo fears a second spike in cases will happen if just one person from a worse-affected state travels in and infects residents again.
At a press conference on interview on Tuesday, he said of the wealthiest residents who have long left the city: ‘They are in their Hamptons homes, or Hudson Valley or Connecticut.
‘I talk to them literally every day. I say. “When are you coming back? I’ll buy you a drink. I’ll cook,’ he said.
‘They’re not coming back right now. And you know what else they’re thinking, if I stay there, they pay a lower income tax because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge.
‘So, that would be a bad place if we had to go there,’ he said.
It is not unusual for Manhattan to clear out for the month of August, when temperatures between the skyscrapers soar and send many fleeing to Long Island’s beaches or further afield.
But this summer, with the ongoing lack of appeal in the city, the likelihood that people will come back in the fall is shrinking.
What is making matters worse are the increasing calls from other lawmakers to boost taxes on the city’s highest earners to try to plug the $30billion deficit that was left by the pandemic.
Cuomo said he is resisting the idea, that will send the already transient group of taxpayers running for the hills.
‘A single per cent of New York’s population pays half of the state’s taxes and they’re the most mobile people on the globe,’ he said.
He wants the federal government to step in with help in the final stimulus bill that is due to pass soon, and has warned that unless more financial aid is given, the country is on track for a ‘real recession’.
‘If they don’t make this bill right, frankly, they shouldn’t pass it because it will be the last bill.
‘If this bill does not have funding for state and local government you will see a real recession, not just in New York but across the country [by] forcing state and local governments to lay off people,’ he said.
Cuomo is also furious that the president has not issued guidance for the rest of the country.
He says that because Trump – who earlier this week responded ‘it is what it is’ when presented with the fact that thousands of Americans are still dying – remains in denial over how serious the virus is.
New York, he said, had done the work to squash the infection rate over the last six months but because no other states are doing the same, it still can’t return to its former glory.
‘Its so frustrating that … six months later … we are still talking about this on a such a level of ignorance and denial and are still so woefully unprepared,’ he said.
Meanwhile in the Hamptons, stores and restaurants are enjoying bustling trade from the well-heeled city dwellers who have fled there. Pictured, the village of Sag Harbor
‘Facts are facts. We see the numbers going up … We see experts saying, “We need to reset,” but the reset has to start at the top. We have confusion, we have chaos. I think the president has to stand up and say what he didn’t say six month ago.
‘That COVID is serious. That we can’t deny it. That it’s not political, and that it isn’t going to go away magically. That the way he handled it was wrong. It has to start with the president,’ he said.
Unless there is a national plan, Cuomo said the virus will continue to bounce from state to state.
‘You’ll see a ping-pong of this virus across the country unless you have a national strategy … Giving it back and forth to each other like family members,’ he fumed.
While Cuomo is begging New Yorkers to come back, those who have stayed in the city are outraged by his continuously harsh rules.
Most of Cuomo’s lockdown strategies have been embraced, but a recent decision to force bars to sell ‘substantial’ amounts of food to customers dining outdoors has sparked outrage.
It was prompted by a small number of the city’s bars and restaurants flouting social distancing rules to allow large crowds to gather – a clear COVID catalyst.
Rather than single in on those specific bars, Cuomo is now forcing everyone to serve large dishes with drinks which is putting the establishments that do comply with the rules in an impossible position.
Not all of them have kitchens, and customers – many of whom have seen their own disposable income reduced – do not want to pay for an entire meal when looking to go somewhere for a drink.
To get around the issue, some bars started selling $1 Cuomo fries or bags of peanuts.
Cuomo responded by telling them they had to serve more substantial amounts of food.
There was a huge exodus of residents from New York City at the start of the pandemic which was later compounded by the chaotic riots and looting that were triggered by George Floyd’s death.
The state’s tax base took an unprecedented beating with the sheer number of tenants who failed to pay rent on time or at all, and with almost no retail or dining occurring for the best part of three months.