2008-04-25 / Top Stories

Council To Host Hearing On Water Costs

The Finance and Environmental Protection Committees will convene an oversight hearing on the proposed water and sewer rate increase on Monday, May 5th, at 11 a.m. in Council Chambers. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has called for a 14.5% increase in FY09, which would increase the average single-family homeowner's bill by about $100 dollars a year.

"New Yorkers had to bear the burden of a double digit increase to their water and sewer bills last year," said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "With many families already struggling because of the downturn in our economy, DEP must explain and justify their reasoning for this latest increase."

"I feel as if the people of New York have been deceived by the DEP and the Water Board," said Finance Committee Chair David Weprin. "They claimed that if the City Council gave them the authority for stand alone water lien sales, they would avoid an 18% mid-year increase. Now 4 months later, after the Council gave such authority, they are proposing a 14.5% rate increase. This is just the type of tax that will unfairly hurt the middle class and be another incentive to cause them to move out of New York City.

"Skyrocketing water rates are a regressive, backdoor tax used to bolster the City's general coffers," said Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee James F. Gennaro. "This hearing will help us to learn just how much of these annual increases are really necessary and how much of them we might be able to avoid with more progressive policy."

In December, the Council announced a landmark agreement with the Administration on legislation regarding New York City's water and sewer lien policies after a year and a half of negotiations. The legislation established for the first time important protections for New Yorkers in the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) lien and billing policies for stand alone water liens on residential properties. The deal was widely credited with avoiding a significant 18% mid-year increase in municipal water rates.

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