The Civic Scene: City water rates will increase, but by slightly lower margin

By Bob Harris

Holloway said the water rate increase this year would be 12.9 percent instead of the 14 percent originally proposed. It seems there are plans to raise the water rates another 12 percent to 14 percent next year and perhaps for a few more years. If rates continue to rise, we will have valuable properties but may not have enough money to pay taxes and rate raises plus keep our properties in repair.

The commissioner told of the many expensive projects the city is building. It has spent more than $1 billion to upgrade sewers in Queens in the past 10 years and expect to spend more in the future. It will spend $115 billion over the next 10 years to reduce the amount of nitrogen in our waterways.

People from the Flushing Heights Civic and Fresh Meadows Homeowners associations brought up the topic of flooding along Utopia Parkway. FMHCA President Jim Gallagher spoke of the flooding which has plagued that community for the past 30 years. Halloway listened, asked for comments from some of his subordinates and promised to report back results of surveys.

The builders built the garages for the houses on Utopia Parkway below ground, more lawns have been cemented or bricked over and more land has been built upon with more people flushing sewers and there are fewer places for water to be absorbed into the ground. The DEP has put in sewer catch basins here, but some residents believe they were too small. There is talk of not using a check valve in houses because they can get clogged with debris, but using a gate valve which you can close yourself if there are heavy rains.

During the presentation the commissioner said water rates usually rose 6.5 percent a year around the country, but he never answered why our rates are going up 12 percent to 14 percent a year. This year the rate increase adds up to a $93 increase, but this is year after year.

Holloway told of selling water liens if the debt is more than $1,000 and more than a year old as a way of making those who do not pay water bills pay them. If we collected more money, we would not have to sell bonds to raise money for construction and thus pay the interest rates for the bonds. The system wastes more than 1 billion gallons of water a day, so cutting waste would save money.

My thinking is that if people would not wash their driveways down with hoses, we would not need so much water. Perhaps cutting the number of managers at the DEP could save us money. We get a glossy water report every year, but a report every other year would save money. Cutting or consolidating one-third of our boards and authorities would save lots of money. Why aren’t the City Council and state Legislature doing that?

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Any nation that cannot control its borders has a problem. We have neglected the illegal immigration problem, the need for workers to do low-level jobs, the dangers posed by criminals smuggling illegal aliens and narcotics through our borders, the evil which the narcotics money causes, the crime caused by people stealing, robbing and killing to get money for illegal drugs and the danger which our borders posses due to terrorists being able to illegally enter the country.

The Arizona law which tries to crack down on illegal immigration, while objectionable in many ways, is making us face the facts of the crisis which Arizona and Texas are facing. The Mexican drug cartels are smuggling, killing and kidnaping people. For money they might decide to smuggle a terrorist instead of a poor person seeking work. The drug money and violence over drug markets are destroying the fabric of our nation. Hopefully, the coming demonstration will make Congress realize we need a fair solution to immigration.

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