Fitzpatrick: Unnecessary Water Testing Mandate Will Drive Up Property Taxes

Testing for lead contamination already performed by the Suffolk County Water Authority
March 7, 2007

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today explained that legislation forcing school districts to perform annual lead-copper testing is not only unnecessary, but will drive up property taxes. The legislation, which passed the Assembly in February, requires school districts to pay for their own water testing, even though the nationally recognized Suffolk County Water Authority testing laboratory already undertakes the responsibility.

“The Suffolk County Water Authority already does an excellent job to ensure our drinking water is safe for consumption,” said Fitzpatrick. “There is no reason to force schools to do something that is already handled by professionals.”

The legislation, Assembly bill A.2279, stipulates annual school lead-copper tap water testing and published reports of contamination. While this legislation is well intentioned, it undermines the responsibility of the school administration, who normally works with the PTA and the teacher’s union to deal with problems on a case-by-case basis. Instead, schools will be forced to fund the annual testing, which will reportedly cost each district $15 for every water faucet and fountain in each school, by increasing property taxes.

“Our administrators are guided by their legal responsibilities to ensure the safety of students,” remarked Fitzpatrick. “This unfunded mandate undermines their responsibilities and puts additional strain on Long Island taxpayers. This legislation may make people feel good, but it’s unnecessary and guarantees your property taxes will rise even further.”