Agency Seeks Five Percent Increase
Water rates are slated to increase once again, but this time, the hike is being touted as the lowest in eight years.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing a 5.6 percent increase, which translates to about $4 per month more for the average single-family home and nearly $3 per month more for multifamily dwellings, according to department’s 2014 water rate proposal.
The increase is lower than the DEP projected it would be last year. The agency cites operational costsaving measures, deferred capital projects, strong collections and lower interest rates on debts, as factors in the lower-than-projected hike, the proposal said.
The DEP has cut its budget by $37 million (four percent) for fiscal year 2014 and is projected to realize millions in savings annually thanks to a slough of initiatives collectively called Operational Excellence (OpEx) aimed at streamlining operations and cutting costs.
So far, OpEx initiatives that have been implemented will save the DEP $15.7 million annually and additional initiatives that take affect during fiscal year (FY) 2013 are slated to save the department another $26 million each year.
The fiscal year starts July 1 and ends June 30 the following year.
Low interest rates and debt re-financing saved the city nearly $850 million in FY 2013, according to the report.
The DEP was able to defer or eliminate unfunded capital projects mandated by regulatory agencies. The DEP’s report states it has saved $5 billion, so far, though some projects that have been deferred will ultimately have to be undertaken.
“…We recognize that any rate increase can be a burden on our customers, and we will continue to look for ways to further tighten our belts and work with our regulators to reduce the burden of unfunded mandates so that New Yorkers get the best possible water and wastewater services at the most affordable rates,” said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.
Rates rose 7 percent in FY 2013 and 7.5 percent in FY 2012. Hikes the four years prior to 2012 ranged from 11.5 percent to 14.5 percent.
The Water Board, which sets water rates, will hold a series of five public hearings on the proposed water rate hike.
The hearing in Queens will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 2 at La- Guardia Community College, located 45-50 Van Dam Street, Room E-242 in Long Island City. The Brooklyn hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Tueday, Apr. 30 at IS 228, located 228 Avenue S.