Your Tax Dollars Literally Going Down the Drain

BY JOEL GROSSBARTH

We’ve all heard of frivolous disputes wasting tax dollars in court. The Matter of Scott v. Village of Nyack Housing Authority might be the worst example yet.

This week an appeals court in Brooklyn rendered a decision on the case, which pitted a tenant against the Village of Nyack Housing Authority. The tenant challenged a charge of $8.25 for services performed in clearing a clogged bathroom drain in her apartment, claiming her lease provided for ordinary repairs. The Village Housing Authority countered that the $8.25 charge was attributable to her neglect in cleaning her drain.

The appeals court  upheld the $8.25 charge assessed by the Housing Authority. The question remains how much in taxpayer money was used in litigating the case?

The Legal Aid Society of Rockland County represented the petitioner. This agency generally performs  work on behalf of indigent litigants, receives some funding by Rockland County.  The Village of Nyack Housing Authority is a rental community that consists of Section 8 housing subsidized by the State of New York to assist poorer tenants with their rents. In effect, both sides of this case used tax dollars for salaries and/or payment of legal fees. A private firm in White Plains, New York represented the housing authority.

In order to file the case, hundreds of dollars are required for filing fees and tens of thousands of dollars are typically spent in connection with the legal work. Somewhere along the line, someone should have stopped and thought about the cost of litigation for an $8.25 assessment.