Landlords win battle with City Hall over water rate rebate

Judge’s ruling invalidates 2.1% rate hike earlier this year
June 21, 2016 10:43AM

From left: Mayor Bill de Blasio and  Joseph Strasburg of the Rent Stabilization Association

From left: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Joseph Strasburg of the Rent Stabilization Association

Landlords won a battle with City Hall Monday over the city’s 2.1 percent water rate increase after a state judge ruled the de Blasio administration arbitrarily awarded a water rebate to select property owners.

The Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 landlords, took the city to court after the mayor’s administration decided to give $122 million in the form of a one-time rebate to some property owners on their water bills, Politico reported.

The city has a long-held and contentious practice of using money collected from the water rates to fill its general fund.

De Blasio said he would end the practice, but instead of reinvesting the extra $122 million after the city raised the rate by 2.1 percent this year, the mayor decided to give the funds back as a rebate to some 664,000 one-, two- and three-family homeowners.

The RSA cried foul and took the city to court. On Monday Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead ruled against the rebate, while at the same time invalidating the rate increase it was predicated upon.

“The bill credit is unrelated and bears no reasonable correlation to the costs of water service,” Edmead wrote in her opinion, adding that the credit “is designed to accommodate the mayor’s political agenda and provide a windfall to certain homeowners.”

The city said it would appeal the ruling. [Politico] – Rich Bockmann