Ratepayers balk at Water Board’s 7% proposed hike

The good news is that the Department of Environmental Protection has not proposed a double-digit increase in water usage rates this year.

The bad news is that the rate DEP has proposed to the New York City Water Board for the 2013 Fiscal Year is a 7% increase. The rate is more than twice the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, for the 12 months ending in March, according to federal government statistics.

An increase of 7% is a 25% reduction from a 9.3% increase that was projected when Fiscal Year 2012’s increase was announced, and is the lowest proposed increase in seven years, according to the DEP.

“Reliable, clean water is the essential ingredient to any city, and New Yorkers can be assured that our investments to protect and provide NYC Water to more than nine million New Yorkers will keep our economy growing for future generations,” said DEP commissioner Carter Strickland.

The DEP has cut 15% of its operating costs in a three-year period, Strickland said.

But larger increases in water rates are starting to become an annual ritual, with rates increasing by 78% since 2005, according to Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s office.

Vacca is sponsoring a petition drive to fight the proposed increase, and is urging residents to either stop by his office at 3040 E. Tremont Avenue to sign a petition, or call (718) 931-1721 to have a petition mailed.

“If this situation sounds familiar, that’s because we have this battle year after year over water hikes,” Vacca said. “The New York City Water Board wants to pick our pockets again. This may be the smallest hike we have seen in seven years, but an increase still means more money out of our pockets.”

It appears as if the city has no intention of stopping the large increases in water rates experienced in recent years, Vacca said, adding that according to the DEP’s own estimates, this increase would raise a single-family homeowner’s water bill by approximately $60 per year.

Petitions need to be signed and returned to Vacca’s office by Tuesday, April 24. Vacca is also urging his constituents to attend the New York City Water Board public hearing regarding the proposed increase at the Riverdale YM-YWHA at 5625 Arlington Avenue on Wednesday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. A vote on the proposed price increase will take place on Friday, May 4.

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