The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is coming to Waterbury LaSalle to hold its annual water rate hearing on Thursday, May 6.
Many residents are biting at the bit at the chance to express their feelings on the proposed rate hike.
The Department of Environmental Protection has proposed a hike this year of 12.9% This would amount to an increase of almost $100 per year for the average single-family home, and is the second double digit increase in two years. Over the past five years, there has been a 78% increase. Over the last 10 years, rates have more than doubled.
Councilman James Vacca urged all to attend the hearing, which in the past has been held at Lehman College during the day. This year it will be held in the evening at 7 p.m. at P.S. 14, located at 3041 Bruckner Boulevard. Doors open at 6 p.m..
“This is another attempt to pick the pockets of small homeowners once again,” Vacca said. “Water rates have gotten out of control. We have had increases every year, and the city has shown they do not have the ability or desire to control runaway water bills. This is a hidden tax. It is officially called a fee, but it is a tax.”
DEP commissioner Cas Holloway has defended the actions of the agency recently in published reports, pointing out that the agency is in the middle of a period of large-scale investment in infrastructure. This includes the construction of the Croton Filtration Plant in Van Cortlandt Park.
Vacca said that the whole way water conservation is encouraged by the DEP and Water Board is self-defeating, and that the installation of water meters several years ago was supposed to be a way to decrease usage and cost of water that never materialized.
“New Yorkers know how to conserve,” Vacca said. “Water usage was down by 5% last year. But what happens with water rates is when the amount of water usage goes down, the city sees a decrease in revenue. They respond by raising water rates.”
Vacca said that with increased emphasis on a ‘Green New York,” conservation is becoming an unattractive option. He said that the issue is of particular importance to seniors this year who are seeing no raise in their Social Security benefits for two years.
“There are so many elderly people coming to our meetings who are telling us that they are barely scraping by the way things are now,” said Mary Jane Musano, of the Waterbury LaSalle Community Organization. “People need to speak out on this important issue.”
The meeting comes on the heals of a DEP meeting held in February at the Hutchinson Metro Center at 1200 Waters Place which was attended by DEP commissioner Holloway. At the meeting, the methods used to calculate billing and investment in capital projects were discussed with active participation and a question and answer session with the community.
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org