Water bills may go up by 5.6 percent
BY MELISA STUMPF AND JAY SHIN
Calling it the lowest increase in eight years, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed on Friday, April 5, to increase water bill rates yet again, this time by 5.6 percent.
“Today we are able to propose a rate lower than we anticipated thanks in large part to our continued commitment to be more efficient and cut costs without sacrificing the quality of the services we provide to New Yorkers,” said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.
The raise would mean that a typical single-family homeowner would see an increase from $939 to $991 a year for water and sewer bills, a change which is stirring outrage.
“You may hear the DEP boast that this is the ‘lowest increase’ we’ve seen in years, but ask just about any homeowner and they will tell you their water bills are much too high! In fact, overall water rates have skyrocketed 78 percent since 2005! So the term ‘lowest increase’ is somewhat of an oxymoron,” said Justin Brannan, press secretary to Councilmember Vincent Gentile.
Councilmember Stephen Levin concurred, noting that “we need to find new ways to fund the DEP that don’t squeeze the pockets of New York City homeowners.”
State Senator Martin Golden called it “unconscionable” to think that the rates need to be raised again.
“Water rates have gone from $1.44 in 2003 to $3.39 in 2013 per 100 cubic feet,” he stressed. “That’s 2.4 times the price it was just 10 years ago. It is getting harder and harder for our middle class families to afford a day in New York City, and all this rate increase would do is bring even more burden onto our families and businesses.”
City Comptroller John C. Liu was amongst those who disagree with the raise. “City Hall’s proposal to hike water prices yet again is another blow to struggling New Yorkers’ pocketbooks. After the astronomical rate rises of the past seven years, it is cold comfort that the proposed hike is ‘only’ 5.6 percent. Citizens should protest this proposed hike at the coming hearings,” he said.
People in the streets of Brooklyn agreed. “Everything’s going up,” said Armand Toledo; although he does not own a house, he’s worried his rent is going to increase as a result of the increase.
“I don’t like it. Things are crazily high,” concurred Many Sanduels, from Long Island City.
Strickland said that he’s aware that raises can be a burden to New Yorkers, but contended that they’re getting the best possible water and wastewater services “at most affordable rates.”
The New York City Water Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, April 30, at 7 p.m. at I.S. 228, David Boody, at 228 Avenue S.
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