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Monday, May 20, 2024

‘Hidden’ $1.4 B tax plan would make NYC water bills soar 8.5%

Mayor Eric Adams plans to implement what critics say is a “hidden tax” that would make homeowners’ water bills soar 8.5% – despite boasting his new budget plan won’t include more taxes. 

The city plans to charge its own Water Board at least $1.4 billion in rent over four years to lease water and sewer systems, The New York Times first reported. 

In turn, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection wants the Water Board to raise rates in July for homeowners and landlords by 8.5%, according to a proposal released Friday by the board.


A "hidden tax" in Mayor Adams' budget will raise the water bills of New York City homeowners by 8.5%.
A “hidden tax” in Mayor Adams’ budget will raise the water bills of New York City homeowners by 8.5%. AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie, File

If approved, the rate increase would only cover some of the rent charges, with the rest likely picked up by funds that usually cover water and sewer system capital project upgrades.

“It’s all legal, but legal doesn’t make it right,” Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens), who chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection, told the newspaper.

He described the funding mechanism, which hasn’t been used in decades as a “hidden tax” to score extra money money from New Yorkers without hikes property or sales taxes.

Owners of single-family homes pay $1,088 on average for water each year, and the proposed increase would increase that amount by $93, The Times reported. Landlords usually pay for water but pass along the cost to tenants in their monthly rents.

Adams last month released a $111.6 billion executive budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that restores many previously slashed services, despite pandemic aid dropping and costs to deal with the city’s migrant crisis continuing to soar.  

Liz Garcia, a mayoral spokeswoman, defended the plan, saying the city “continues to lead the nation in keeping water rates low, with New Yorkers paying less than the average American living in a large city for exceptional water quality and delivery.”

She also claimed New Yorkers won’t notice the Water Board’s likely reduction in financing long-term repairs.

“We are investing billions of dollars in large-scale capital improvements over the next decade to enhance our water and sewage systems and make drainage upgrades, all while making sure that working-class New Yorkers — particularly low-income and senior residents — pay affordable rates,” she said.

“We will continue our commitment to delivering low costs for high-quality water to New Yorkers while making critical upgrades to our city’s infrastructure.”

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