Water rates are at an all-time high in Queens, and instead of providing much needed economic relief; there is a proposal to raise the rates once again. Recently, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a proposed 7 percent increase in water rates; an astronomical 78 percent increase in the cost of water rates since 2005!i
A higher fee for water is the last thing our community and the struggling economy needs right now. While the city has downplayed the rate hike proposal by stating that it is well under the originally projected rate increase of more than 9 percent, 7 percent is still a substantial increase over current water rates.
If the new increase goes into effect, the typical single-family homeowner will see an increase from $877 per year to $939 per year for water and sewer bills – an additional $5 per month. An average multi-family unit with metered billing will see an increase from $571 per year for each dwelling unit to $610 per year for each dwelling unit – an additional $3.25 per month.
As a father and long-time resident of Queens, I understand the many expenses families are faced with, as well as the continuously rising cost of living that we face every year. The rate hike is just another tax and an additional fee on the working and middle class families who are already struggling. We need to keep the money in the pockets of residents who need it and not make them pay additional fees.
After only five planned public hearings across the five boroughs, the Water Board will vote on the water rate on May 4th and if passed, will take effect on July 1st. A public hearing in Queens is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, at Christ the King Regional High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village.
In an effort to limit additional rising costs, to their credit, the DEP announced a three-year pilot program that would cap payments to the general fund at $196 million, the level from 2011. The DEP has also taken a number of steps to help mitigate the trend of increasing debt in the future through innovative planning and advocacy. The DEP has reached an agreement with the state to implement a groundbreaking green infrastructure plan that will eliminate or defer $3.4 billion in capital commitments, while making the state more environmentally friendly. This is a good first step, but more needs to be done.
In the coming weeks, I will be introducing legislation to cap the increase in water rates to no more than 4 percent each year. Parents should never have to choose between paying a ridiculously expensive fee or cut back on such fundamental necessities as doing laundry, bathing their children or washing dishes. If you have concerns about this or any other issue, please do not hesitate to call my office at 945-9550 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.