By Gina Martinez
Following an Appeals Court decision, 277,495 Queens homeowners of one-to three-family houses will get a $183 rebate on their water bills, but not everyone is seeing it as a victory.
In 2016 Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed the $183 credit as part of the city Water Board’s fiscal year 2017 budget, saying it would help ease the burden on middle-class and elderly homeowners. The Rent Stabilization Association argued more seniors and middle-class New Yorkers live in rentals, and people who would benefit the most from this would be upper middle class residents living in brownstones.
The Appeals Court upheld the Water Board’s authority to issue the credit to the mayor’s chosen demographic.
Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said the mayor has once again acted against the interest of the city’s 25,000 landlords, who he said struggle daily to make repairs and maintain quality, affordable housing for New Yorkers.
“De Blasio forgot to thank these small landlords—because his water rebate for one- to three-family homeowners is on their backs.” he said.
The mayor disagreed and applauded the New York Court of Appeals’ decision as a victory for the middle class and another critical step towards building a more fair and equitable city.
“The court’s decision clears the way for the Water Board to provide welcome financial relief for more than 664,000 New York homeowners,” he said. “They can now receive a credit on an upcoming water bill, keeping money in the pockets of hardworking New York families.”
The $183 credit is set to save single- family homeowners 17 percent annually on water and sewer bills. The $183 credit will be applied to all 664,000 one- to three-family homes across the city.
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) has long been an outspoken critic of unnecessary water rate increases.
“If the mayor and the Water Board have enough extra cash floating around to give homeowners such as myself a $183 credit, without raising rates 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, then by all means play Santa and go for it,” he said. “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.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart