By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bay Ridge elected officials from both sides of the aisle are busy pouring cold water on a proposal to raise the city’s water and sewer rates.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) are both speaking out on the recommendation made April 23 by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that the New York City Water Board raise the rate by 3.35 percent. The water board is holding a public hearing in Brooklyn on May 14 before deciding on a rate hike. The hearing will take place at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, 329 Greenpoint Ave., at 7 p.m.
The water board is expected to make a decision on May 23. If it is approved, the new rate would take effect on July 1. With the new increase, a typical single-family homeowner in the city would pay a yearly water bill of $1,025, an increase of $33 over last year.
Golden is urging residents to attend the May 14 public hearing and speak out against the proposed increase. “I urge all residents of New York City to attend the local water board hearing and have your voices heard. I am also urging the New York City Council to finally take action, and put a freeze on water rate increases in New York City. Enough is enough,” he said.
The proposed rate hike would be the 11th increase in the amount New Yorkers have to pay for water in as many years. Water bills have gone up 78% since 2005.
But the New York Daily News reported that the new rate would represent the smallest increase in nine years. The plan is also less than half of what the DEP originally said it would need, according to the News.
Still, Gentile said it’s too high. “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, our water rates have skyrocketed nearly 80 percent since 2005! So the term ‘lowest increase’ is somewhat of an oxymoron.During these trying economic times, telling taxpayers ‘at least it’s not as bad as last year’ is an insult and no consolation,” the councilman said.
“It’s unconscionable to think that we need to raise these rates again. It is getting harder and harder for our middle class families to afford to stay in New York City, and all this rate increase would do is bring even more burden on to our families and businesses,” Golden said.