The city’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday that it was proposing a seven percent water rate increase for Fiscal Year 2013.
But northeast Queens residents and leaders said they did not believe the agency justified the proposed rate hike with an explanation.
DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland said the agency proposed the increased rate to the city’s Water Board. He noted that it was a 25 percent reduction from last year’s proposed rate as well as the lowest increase in seven years.
“Our proposed seven percent rate increase is the lowest increase in seven years and shows that DEP is doing everything in our power to try and keep rates in check while still delivering a product that city residents can take pride in every time they turn on the tap,” Strickland said. “Though any rate increase is difficult in these economic conditions, we are clearly moving in the right direction.”
Northeast Queens residents and community leaders said they did not believe a water rake hike was justified.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said not all of the money collected through water rates go toward improving the city’s water system.
“The water rate increases are particularly troubling to homeowners,” he said. “In effect, it’s a backdoor tax. The Water Board and the DEP just sign off on these increases and they don’t have to go through the City Council. This way, the city can raise revenue without saying that taxes are being raised. It’s how the mayor balances the budget. There needs to be more transparency.”
“I think we deserve an explanation on why it keeps going up every single year,” said Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association. “It’s almost as if they are telling us that it’s going to keep going up every year.”
Socci said his recent water bill for three months was $105, but he noted that it is currently a low point in the year for water use.
He said his water use nearly doubles in the spring and summer, which could translate to an additional $40 to $50 per year.