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Vacca opposes mayor’s water rate increase

The New York City Water Board is trying to push through another rate hike for homeowners and apartment building owners this coming year. Councilman Jimmy Vacca is again gearing up to fight the increase.

Vacca is calling on Mayor Bloomberg to rein in his Water Board appointees to squash a proposed 14% rate hike.

A hearing was held on Tuesday, April 28 at Bronx Library Center.

“We are being soaked again by the water board, and only the mayor can intervene because the board is comprised of his appointees,” Vacca said. “I think this increase is very unfair and not called for in these trying economic times.”

Vacca said that the rationale the water board is using for the rate increase is flawed. Vacca said the board is arguing that since consumption of water is down by 6% this year, the Department of Environmental Protection is loosing money. The DEP administers the city’s water-meter program. The DEP agrees the increase would have a substantial impact on most homeowners.

“For fiscal year 2010, DEP is proposing a water and sewer rate increase of 14%, which is consistent with the projected rate at this time last year,” said DEP deputy commissioner Anne Canty.

“For the typical single-family home, this means that average annual water and sewer costs would increase from $799 to $911, an increase of about $28 per quarter, or approximately 30 cents per day.”

According to Vacca, because DEP is considered a revenue-producing agency by the city, it was spared the deep cuts other city agencies will have to face beginning on July 1.

“They are using the reason that water usage is down by 6% for raising New Yorker’s water bills,” Vacca said. “Here we are talking about a ‘green’ city and penalizing people for saving water. They are raising revenue on the taxpayers backs.”

DEP countered that the agency understands the pain taxpayers in the city are experiencing.

“DEP recognizes that both across the country and in New York City, many residents are experiencing financial pressure, and that any increase is significant for our customers,” Canty said. “We are working to keep the rate as low as possible, including taking the same 5% budget cut as other agencies.”

Vacca said that the proposed increase, which follows a similar double-digit increase last year, would affect homeowners and those who rent apartments because it will cause rent increases.

Vacca added: “You could die of dehydration and your water bill will go up.”

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