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City homeowners get water bill credit as Court of Appeals upholds ruling

New York City homeowners got a win when the New York Court of Appeals upheld the Water Board’s issuance of credits, effectively allowing 664,000 homeowners to receive a $183 credit on an upcoming water bill.

“The court’s decision clears the way for the Water Board to provide welcome financial relief for more than 664,000 New York homeowners,” said Mayor de Blasio last week. “They can now receive a credit on an upcoming water bill, keeping money in the pockets of hard working New York families. This New Year we can celebrate another critical step towards building a more fair and equitable city.”

The City first proposed the $183 credit in 2016, and the $183 credit was approved by the Water Board as part of the Board’s fiscal year 2017 budget. But a legal challenge was filed later that year and the New York County Supreme Court invalidated the Board’s resolution, which included the $183 credit.

In May of 2016, the Water Board approved a water rate increase, marking the third time that the agency approved a rate hike since de Blasio took office. The city planned to implement the rate increase with a $183 bill credit for owners of one to three family homes. The Mayor’s Office said that the bill credit was enough to offset the burden on customers since 80 percent (664,000) of homeowners are eligible.

Landlords group Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), which sued the city along with building owners Prometheus Realty, Portofino Realty and Tuscan Realty, called the plan a “re-election ploy” that placed the financial burden on landlords. RSA won rulings in both the state Supreme Court and the Appellate Division.

The Water Board appealed the decision which was subsequently upheld by the Appellate Division’s First Department.

Upon further appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals, the Court upheld the Board’s authority to issue the credit at issue and its broad discretion in setting water rates.

Aside from the water bill credit, the city is also giving a new endowment to multifamily properties that meet affordability and conservation standards. The program, called the Multifamily Affordable Housing Credit, will provide a $250 credit for every residential unit. The Water Board has allocated $10 million in funding for 40,000 units.

In 2016 the City proposed, and the Water Board approved, the $183 credit as part of the Board’s fiscal year 2017 budget. Later that year a legal challenge was filed and the New York County Supreme Court invalidated the Water Board’s resolution, including the $183 credit.

The $183 credit represents a nearly 17 percent savings on the annual water and sewer bills for a typical single-family homeowner. For approximately 150,000 homeowners, many of whom are seniors, who use less than 95 gallons of water per day and pay the minimum charge, the credit represents a nearly 40 percent savings on their annual water and sewer bills.

The $183 credit will be applied to all one to three-family homes across the city

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