Monday, April 14, 2008

Hide-And-Go-Tax mayor socks New Yorkers with a killer water bill.

Water bill?

No, not for bottled water. I’m talking about the “free” stuff that pours out of the faucets in New York.

In a town fed by one of the planet’s best reservoir systems, with rainfall in excess of plentiful for the past few months, with no forseeable likelihood that New York is going to run out of the stuff in the next 100 years, New Yorkers are about to get socked with what is likely to be yet another staggering increase in their water bills.

The price of drinking tap water, brushing your teeth, taking a shower or flushing a toilet is going up by double digits once again. Said a blog called DMI Blog last year:

Compounded annually, the 54% increase in water and sewer rates in New York City that the Water Board is projecting over the next four years will mean more maxed-out homeowners going into foreclosure, more affordable housing managers struggling to keep their buildings afloat, and (since all costs trickle down) higher rents for the millions of rent stabilized tenants, many who already pay half of their income on rent.
And that was a year ago!

What’s behind the increase?
Follow Mayor Bloomberg's failings.

It turns out that behind two years of average double-digit increases is Mayor Bloomberg, picking his citizens’ pockets as they bend over the water cooler. And at the same time he's failing to do a proper job of collecting on water bills the city is already owed.

Hey, I don’t begrudge the mayor money to run the city. But how about a straightforward fairly graduated income tax hike and some city hall management efficiency, rather than a sneak attack on citizens who, regardless of income, suddenly have to pay through the nose to pee – least if they want to flush?

Another expose of the Mayor’s attempt to quietly pick his fellow citizens’ pockets appeared last Friday in the New York Post.

New York City Comptroller, William C. Thompson, who no doubt now finds himself inhabiting the Mayor’s Snit List revealed:
The Water Board leases the water and sewer infrastructure from the city. The board's rent payments to the city are based on a formula that until recently simply reimbursed the city for water-related debt service on bonds issued before the Water Authority was created.

But, since 2005, rental payments under that formula have exceeded the amount needed to pay down this old debt. This "excess rent" will total $77 million in fiscal year 2008 and grow to over $175 million by fiscal year 2011. This cash flows into the city's general fund, to be used as any other general revenue.
In other words, the Mayor is jacking up the city’s water bill and siphoning the excess into his general revenues. It’s a hidden tax, and its purpose is plain:

Pickpocket Mike wants to fund his city without having to raise income or real estate taxes.

An honest tax hike only looks bad
if you’re running for something.

An equitable income tax hike will make you look bad – despite its probable legitimacy – if you decide to run for office. Say, for Vice-President. Or for Governor of New York State next year. Or for senator to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat if she gets elected to the presidency. (Given the Mayor’s penchant for switching and abandoning parties, it’s a bit difficult to say which party’s principles he stands for or what ticket he would run on.)

Oh, and then there’s the matter of getting the mayor do his job. Part of that job is collecting monies already owed the city so he doesn’t have to raise the ante for honest people who do pay on time. The DMI Blog article pointed out that there’s a…
…plethora of billing errors that prevent the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from enforcing collections resulting in more than $600 million in unpaid water bills…
This is a mayor who has traveled to Beijing in search of “new ideas” and around America last year in search of – well, who knows what, but at the time it looked like electoral votes.

Meanwhile, nobody in City Hall was minding the store. Which may account for everything from that uncollected $600 million to death-dealing crane collapses that resulted because Mayor’s building inspectors weren’t really inspecting.

The price of mayoral negligence is death

That crane collapse – a killer of seven people – was just the tip of the iceberg, Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President revealed.
"We've had partial building collapses; we've had fires in buildings," said Stringer, "we've had cranes pummeling down shafts in buildings; we've had loss of life injuries. This incident is just the latest example of needless people dieing because we do not have proper safety protocols in this city."
Hey, it’s worth your money and your life to trying to survive in New York City when you have a mayor sniffing around everybody’s job in everybody’s city but his own. As for you folks who think you can save costs by conserving water, fuhgheddaboudid.

Said the DMI blog: "…they still need to collect a certain amount, so the more water we conserve, the more they'll charge us for it!"

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