The New York City Water Board voted on Friday, as expected, to increase water rates by 5.6 percent for the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
The average annual water bill for a single-family home will increase from $939 per year to $991. The average increase for a unit in a multifamily dwelling will go up from $610 to $644.
Officials from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, including Commissioner Carter Strickland Jr., said during the public hearing process that the increase was the smallest in eight years due to more efficient operations at the agency.
The DEP has seen four double-digit increases since 2007. The increase of 7 percent for the current year followed consecutive increases of 11.5, 14.5, 12.9 and 12.9 percent.
Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate and a Democratic candidate for mayor, blasted the Water Board’s decision in a statement issued by his office on Friday.
“Our homeowners and small businesses deserve better,” he said. “The water rate hike isn’t just going to fund the water system — it’s being used to plug gaps in the city’s general budget.”
De Blasio called it a hidden tax that he said is chipping away at middle-class residents, particularly in the outer boroughs.
Comptroller John Liu, also a Democratic candidate for mayor, calling the increase a blow to struggling New Yorkers’ pocketbooks, pointed out in a statement last month that the city’s water rate has doubled since 2006.
Liu’s stance hadn’t mellowed any as of Friday.
“That still stands,” said a spokesman for the comptroller.
The U.S. Department of Labor indirectly corroborates both officials’ positions.
According to the DOL website, inflation over the last year as of March was 1.5 percent.
That would make the increase approved Friday 3.7 times the rate of inflation, or 373 percent higher.