Dyker Heights civic leader offers bold idea to NYC
Vella-Marrone asks Water Board to reject rate increase
Fran Vella-Marrone, a lifelong resident of Dyker Heights, has a counter-proposal to the city’s plan to raise water rates by 3.24 percent this year.
“The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has called its proposed 3.24 percent water rate increase its lowest suggested increase in a decade. I would like to make a counter proposal of a 0 percent increase,” she wrote in written testimony she submitted to a public hearing Tuesday at St. Francis College.
Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, said she submitted the testimony on behalf of the association’s members.
She suggested that the members of the New York City Water Board vote against the proposed rate increase. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection announced the proposed Fiscal Year 2016 water and sewer rate hike at a Water Board meeting back on March 27.
The board is holding a series of public hearings this week to give residents a chance to voice their concerns. If approved by the Water Board, the increase would go into effect in July.
While city officials are touting the water rate increase as the lowest rate hike in 10 years, Vella-Marrone said the rate hike is still too high and predicted that it will hurt middle class homeowners and business owners in her community.
“If the proposed increase of 3.24 percent were to be adopted, the average homeowner in Dyker Heights and throughout the city will be paying a yearly fee of $1,058, up from $499 a decade ago. This burden being placed on the taxpayers cannot continue,” Vella-Marrone testified.
Besides, she pointed out, “NYC’s water rates have increased nearly 80 percent since 2005.”
The average taxpayer in New York “is constantly being burdened by ever increasing taxes and fees,” Vella-Marrone said, pointing to rising property taxes, increased tolls on bridges and tunnels and increased fares on subways and buses as examples.
“The consistent draining of our tax base must stop. Taxes and fees continue to increase, yet the income of the average New Yorker has stayed stagnant and in some cases has decreased. We New Yorkers need a reprieve from the ever increasing cost of living in our city,” she wrote in her testimony.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn), who said he’s outraged by the water rate increase proposal, called on residents to speak out against the plan at the public hearing.
“The Water Board needs to know that their thoughtless decisions and actions have negative financial consequences for the hardworking people of our city,” Golden said in a statement.
The Water Board is responsible for establishing rates for water usage in the city and distributes the revenues that are collected. In assessing water rates, the board takes into account the operating and capital needs of the city’s water system, as well as the need to protect the watershed and adhere to regulatory requirements, according to the board’s website, www.nyc.gov/nycwaterboard.
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