Soak Mayor Bloomberg over plan to hike water bills - pols
Monday, May 5th 2008, 4:00 AM
New York homeowners threatened with a 14.5% hike in their water bills should focus their anger on Mayor Bloomberg's administration, which relies on millions of dollars in water payments to balance the city budget, two councilmen said Sunday.
"We're looking at double-digit increases as far as the eye can see," said Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens), who heads the committee that oversees the Department of Environmental Protection. "They're using money from water and sewer bills to pay for general city operations, and that is an outrage."
The latest rate hike would divert $89 million from water bills to general city coffers, and the amount will keep rising to $300 million by 2015 unless Bloomberg closes the loophole, Gennaro said.
Gennaro and Councilman David Weprin (D-Queens) will grill DEP officials Monday about the proposed hike, which comes on the heels of an 11.5% increase last year - despite getting new powers last year to collect more than half a billion dollars worth of unpaid water bills.
"We were sold a bill of goods," Weprin said. "Over 85% of the ratepayers are paying their bills on time, but they have to subsidize the 15% that are not paying."
A Bloomberg spokesman referred questions to DEP flack Mercedes Padilla.
"We know that the Council and the Water Board are very interested in changing the structure of this arrangement," she said. "Unfortunately, this is a year of tremendous economic pressure overall and not a year in which the city's budget can absorb this change."