By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — In light of Friday’s revelation that the Battery Park City Authority squandered $300,000 on parties and fancy lunches, some may be wondering where the Authority gets its money.
Founded in 1968 to oversee the new 92-acre neighborhood built on Hudson River landfill, the Authority takes in more than $200 million a year from taxpaying residents and businesses of Battery Park City.
The reason the Authority makes so much money is that property owners there pay some of the highest taxes in the city.
In addition to paying the equivalent of city property taxes, property owners also pay a parks maintenance fee and a ground rent on their land. The ground rent varies from building to building but costs some condo owners several hundred dollars a month.
The fees fund the Authority’s operating budget, which runs about $30 million a year, its capital budget, which varies, and its debt service and other financial obligations, which run about $100 million a year.
Once the Authority pays those costs, the remaining surplus, which totals tens of millions of dollars a year, goes to the city. The surplus was originally intended for affordable housing but in the past it has often gone to fill city budget gaps.
The state controls the Battery Park City Authority, whose members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate.
At any time, the city can exercise its option of buying Battery Park City from the state for $1 and dissolve the Authority.