New York, NY –
Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have announced a landmark agreement that will allow the city to collect overdue water bills and avoid another large rate hike. WNYC's Lance Luckey has more.
The agreement would allow New Yorkers to avoid a rate hike next year like the 11.5% they were hit with last July. The stick-and-carrot approach to collect more than $500 million would, for the first time, allow the city to force the sale of residential and commercial properties that have water bills of more than $1,000 at least 1 year overdue.
Previously, liens could only be placed on properties for back taxes. Some 15% of customers are past due and to encourage them to pay up, the mayor and speaker announced a one-time Payment Incentive Program that would eliminate late fees, reducing some bills by more than a quarter.
The incentives have already been accepted by more than 8,000 single family residential customers, who would not be subject to the authority, but instead face water shut-offs. Many seniors and disabled New Yorkers would also be exempt. For WNYC, I'm Lance Luckey.