Today’s news:

Water bill cap - New effort to help residents

Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate and several of his assembly colleagues introduced legislation (A.11382/S833) that would cap water and sewer bills for all New York City residents. The bill would prohibit the City of New York from imposing rent upon the New York City Water Board.

According to them, since 1985, the City of New York has unjustly charged the New York City Water Board in the form of “Rent Payments” for “Non-Related Obligations.” In essence, the City of New York has been charging the Water Board for rents that would go into the city’s general fund for the mayor to use as discretionary funding.

In order for the mayor to have this discretionary spending pool, which stems between $70-$80 million, he has to balance the cost of this unfunded mandate in the form of rent, which has then been put on the backs of New York City taxpayers.

“This legislation would help to insure that water rates are tied only to the operation, maintenance and new construction for the water system. It would prevent the addition of unwarranted costs. At a time when New Yorkers are feeling the pinch of rising food, energy and shelter costs, we are being asked to dig deeper into our pockets to pay for yet another essential need: water. The proposed 14.5 percent increase request, on the back of 11.5 percent increase last year, will have a very negative effect on those who can least afford it,” said Abbate.

“It is unfortunate that this administration chooses to ignore the intent of the rental payments to the city, which should cover the general obligation debt service incurred for water purposes only. Instead, the city shifts money that rightfully belongs in the water system to the General Fund, in effect, imposing a backdoor tax on water rate payers,” he added.

Others joining Abbate in co-sponsorship are Assembly Members Brennan, Gianaris, Brook-Krasney, Cymbrowitz, Pheffer and Weprin. Abbate expects additional support from other members as well.

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