Michael Bloomberg sharply rebuked critics who have been talking publicly about the rising cost of water.
Specifically, Bloomberg was asked earlier today about one complaint: that the city charges rent for the use of pipes and land, but it’s the Water Board that raises costs (and sets costs in general).
Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference in Brooklyn that "you’re going to pay for the city services whether you pay them in fees or whether you pay them in taxes. D.E.P. [Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the water and sewer systems] uses city services; traditionally we have billed them for that and they pay [for] that. And if they didn’t buy it from us, the city, they’d have to buy it from the private sector and, presumably, it would even cost more.”
He added, “This seems to be a brouhaha about nothing from a couple of people who want to run for higher office who probably shouldn’t even be considered.”
Neither the reporter who asked the question, nor Bloomberg himself, mentioned any names, but the only really vocal complaints have come from City Council members Jim Gennaro and David Weprin.
Gennaro is making a bid to unseat Republican State Senator Frank Padavan, a Bloomberg ally. Weprin is running for city comptroller in a field of six (so far) that also includes David Yassky, the City Councilman from Brooklyn who Bloomberg has supported overtly and more subtly.
Gennaro happened to be in a City Council hearing about this very issue when I called, but his spokesman, Shams Tarek, told me, “I wouldn’t call a regressive backdoor tax burdening working class New Yorkers a quote, ‘brouhaha’ over nothing. The mayor should use his power to fix this problem instead of politicizing a real cost-of-living issue.”
He also Weprin said, "It’s a major issue for the middle class and it‘s unconscionable that water-rate payers, and the people, should be subsidizing the general fund of the City of New York.”
Weprin said, “The reason people aren’t complaining about it is because people don’t know about it.”
“When the public finds out about it, they’ll be up in arms,” he added.