DeBlasio: Water Rates Stealth Taxation

According to New York City Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, the city's latest 5.6% water rate hike is a stealth tax increase.

Revenues from the city's water system are being diverted into the city's general budget, said deBlasio, who has called on the Water Board and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the release of documents that will prove his point.

In a letter to the Water Board -- appointed by Mayor Bloomberg -- de Blasio connected the city's rising water rates to the Board’s excess “rent” payments to the city.

According to deBlasio, the Water Board arbitrarily sets annual rent payments to pay down debt from city water and sewer infrastructure projects. For years, rent covered only debt service. Since 2005, annual rent has nearly doubled, from $109 million to $196 million, as the cost of debt service has gone down.

The excess payments have contributed to the city's water rates doubling from $1.81 to $3.57 since 2007.

Since 2005, deBlasio said, the board has racked up a $700 million surplus, which is flowing directly into the city's general operating budget. 

When Mayor Bloomberg says he hasn’t raised taxes, deBlasio said, he's only talking about the taxes you can see, not stealth taxes, like skyrocketing water rates.

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