DEP proposes decade’s lowest water rate increase in FY 2016

DEP proposes decade’s lowest water rate increase in FY 2016
Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Environmental Protection

The recently proposed water rate increase is already causing some ripples and waves in our borough despite not yet being formally adopted.

On Friday, March 27, the Department of Environmental Protection proposed a 3.24% increase in the fiscal year 2016 water rate to the New York City Water Board.

The proposal represents the lowest increase in a decade and is 34% lower compared with the anticipated projection of 4.9% for this spring.

This significant reduction was accomplished via internal cost savings and underspending, interest rate savings and redirecting $41 million of FY 2015’s rental payment toward the water and sewer system.

DEP recommends freezing the minimum charge at $1.27 per day, including wastewater charges, for the second consecutive year for more than 150,000 customers using fewer than 100 gallons of water per day explaining this will benefit ratepayers by $2.2 million.

Approximately 25% of all single-family homeowners, a majority of them seniors, will witness no rate increase, according to the agency.

“By implementing effective cost controls, refinancing higher interest debt and reducing the rental payment, we are able to deliver the lowest rate increase in a decade, and the 25 percent of single family homeowners who use the least water will not receive any increase at all. In addition, we have put together a package of initiatives to provide relief to nearly 50,000 additional low-income senior and disabled customers,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd explained.

DEP proposes expanding the Home Water Assistance Program currently providing an annual $116 credit to 12,500 low-income homeowners qualifying for the federal Home Energy Assistance Program to include an additional 46,500 low-income senior and disabled homeowners receiving DOF tax exemptions. This will benefit a total of 59,000 low-income customers.

Should the Water Board adopt this proposed rate, a typical single-family homeowner will witness an increase from $1,025 per year to $1,058 per year for water and sewer which is $3 per month based upon an average consumption of 80,000 gallons of water annually.

Reflecting an average consumption of 52,000 gallons per year, a typical multi-family unit with metered billing will observe an increase from $666 per year, per unit to $689 per year, per unit at less than $2 per month.

NYC Water Board’s establishes the rate following its proposal and five public hearings. one in each borough, regarding the FY 2016 water rate.

The Bronx’s hearing is Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. on the 2nd Floor of Hostos Community College’s Savoy Building.

Following these hearings, the Water Board will formally adopt FY 2016 rates on Friday, May 8 and the new rates become effective Wednesday, July 1.

Community leaders filtered through DEP’s proposal.

“Keeping water bills low for New York City residents and those living on a fixed income is critically important. In a city where the cost of living is sky-high, we must fight to make life more affordable for our hard-working taxpayers.,” Senator Jeff Klein expressed.

“I am against any and all water rate increases by the DEP because there is absolutely no reason for it,” Councilman James Vacca said.

“People in this neighborhood are struggling and it’s unfair to our community’s homeowners and landlords to raise the water rate. Water should be free to use and they should consider completely reducing the rate or at least focus upon improving our area’s more than 100-year old water main pipes,” said Jesse Harris, Community Board 2 Planning Board member and a 30 year Longwood homeowner.