Last Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York Court of Appeals has upheld the Water Board’s decision to issue a $183 credit to 664,000 homeowners. More than 204,000 Brooklyn homeowners and 277,000 Queens residents will benefit from the rebate.
“It is wonderful to be able to announce that hardworking families will be getting an extra gift this holiday season,” de Blasio said. “It’s also a time of year when people are pinching every penny and they are trying to take care of their family and get gifts.”
Last year, the city proposed the $183 credit, which the Water Board approved. The Rent Stabilization Association, the landlord lobby, challenged the move in court.
Initially, the New York County Supreme Court invalidated the decision, but the Water Board appealed, and eventually won in the appeals court.
Standing with a Greenpoint homeowner in front of her house on Lorimer Street on Wednesday, the mayor said the cost of everything in New York City has gone up, making it tougher for families to make ends meet. That’s why every little bit helps, he said.
“There are a lot of people in this city that $183 will really help and matter to them in their lives,” he said.
According to the mayor, for years the city tacked on “hidden taxes” on the water bill. They were paying for charges that “had nothing to do with the water supply.” De Blasio said he determined that was wrong and needed to end, and the Water Board agreed.
Now, homeowners’ water bills will no longer have those charges.
“What they see is what they get,” de Blasio said. “No more hidden taxes, no more hidden fees, just pay for the water you use.”
Greenpoint resident Katie Naplatarski, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years and owned a home for 20 years, said her most recent water bill was more than $250. Eight years ago, it was less than $100.
“In this time, one expense that has really increased is the water bill,” she said. “In the past eight years, I would say it has gone up about four times as much as it used to be.”
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol called it a great day “for the little guy,” the small homeowners who “get hit every which way.”
He compared the action to Congress approving the Republican tax bill.
“We have a Grinch in Washington taking money from the poor to give it to the rich,” Lentol said. “Here in our hometown, we have Santa Claus, who has come to our neighborhood to give money to small family homeowners.”
But Councilman Rory Lancman of Queens had a different assessment. He posted a comment on his social media feed questioning the mayor and Water Board’s decision.
“If the mayor and the Water Board have enough extra cash floating around to give homeowners such as myself a $183 credit, without raising rate on renters and other property owners and without the mayor reneging on his promise to no longer charge ratepayers ‘rent’ for using our water and sewer infrastructure,” he said, “then by all means play Santa and go for it.”
“But if my credit means raising renters and other property owners’ rates, or going back to fiscal gimmicks like ‘renting’ our infrastructure to ourselves, then forget it Mr. Grinch,” he added.