The times we live in are challenging enough. That’s why the
proposed 12.9% hike in water rates in the city is unbearable. The
proposed hike comes one year after a 14.5% last July, an 11.5% in
2007 and 9% in 2006. The average annual bill for a one-family home
under the 12.9% increase is projected to be at $911, up from $779
at current rate. Surely, a disguised tax increase that will
continue to unfairly burden the middle and working
These increases add up, and the
burden grows heavier on the backs of working families. In fact,
the DEP increased the salaries of some of its workers by 35%,
surely a move that flies in the face of its customers.
The increase planned for July is
unfair. The city gets $200 million per year from the water revenue
to add to its general funds, and they should be thankful for
that. Instead of
counting its blessings, the DEP appears to be penalizing
homeowners for conserving water, by imposing a surcharge on our
payments, while raising the salaries of some of its workers.
The double-digit annual increases
are unsustainable and very soon, homeowners will be unable to pay
for the cumulative weight of essential services and supplies.
When will the middle class and
working families get a break? Why a 13% increase? DEP must show
some its customers some consideration, rather than jumping on the
bandwagon of greed. Drown your customers with some appreciation,
not additional charges.
costs under control, DEP must curb waste, theft, and mismanagement
wherever it occurs. It should go after water freeloaders. Some
rogue plumbers roll water meters backward, thus moonlighting as
water thieves. The DEP is to blame in some circumstances, because
it doesn't audit the previous months' bills and demand that the
water thief account for negative usage. Negative rollbacks should
trigger an audit and an investigation of the relevant
DEP should also check the many development sites in
the city that steal water illegally by opening fire hydrants with
hoses hooked up to them, surreptitiously leading behind the
construction fences to the buildings. The result is theft for
prolonged periods from multiple sites at the same time. New
construction permits should trigger site visits.
the fact that it is easy to identify property owners who use water
without paying, the DEP owes a duty to its 832,000 customers to go
after these culprits and ease the projected 13 percent rate
increases by inflicting additional fees and penalties on them.
is a Community Advocate and former State Senate candidate for the
15th State Senate district, who helped Democrats take over the
majority since 1935.