"Water  rates hike is a blatant tax increase." says Albert Baldeo

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 we get a break? Why a 13% increase? DEP must show some its customers some consideration, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of greed. Soak your customers with some appreciation, not additional charges.

To keep 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 and new constructions should trigger an audit and an investigation of the relevant meters.

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.Apart from 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.UNITED COMMUNITIES ALLIANCE

The times we live in are challenging enough. That's why the proposed 12.9% hike in water rates in the city is unbearable, culminating after successive annual increases. The average annual  bill for a one-family home under this increase is projected to be  at $911, up from $779 at current rate. This is surely a disguised tax increase that will continue to unfairly burden us.

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%, a move that flies in the face of  its customers. The city gets $200 million per year from 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.

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