Testimony of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Before the New York City Water Board
RE: Proposed Rate Increase for FY2013
Today, I join with the overwhelming majority of Bronx residents in opposition to the New York City Water Board’s proposal to increase our City’s water rates by seven percent in FY 2013.
Once again, the water board has decided to soak Bronx and City homeowners to make ends meet, putting an unfair burden on hardworking New Yorkers who are already struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times.
While I do, of course, appreciate that this proposed seven percent increase is the smallest increase put forward by the water board, the cumulative rate hikes put forward by your agency since 2005 have equaled a 78 percent total hike.
In essence, the water board has, drip by drip by drip, nearly doubled the total cost of a Bronx homeowner’s water bill over the past seven years. And now, here we are, once again, seeking even more.
And for what? Much of the rising costs of the Department of Environmental Protection appear to be of the agency’s own making, and should not be shouldered by everyday New Yorkers. We know, for example, that just a few miles from here in Van Cortlandt Park the costs of the Croton Watershed Filtration Plant have more than doubled, with construction overruns bringing the cost of the project to new, unexpected heights.
In addition, a recent report by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio notes that the Department of Environmental Protection’s new automated meters have been fraught with technical errors, causing homeowners to be overbilled and, in essence, serving to increase rates. The agency’s debt service payments have also risen, due to unfunded federal mandates.
None of this, of course, is the fault of the homeowner who will be forced to pay these higher rates. We understand that times are tough, and that everyone must do more with less. Well, maybe it’s time for struggling homeowners to ask the same of the Department of Environmental Protection.
With that in mind, I am opposed to this proposed water rate hike. Our homeowners, like everyone else, are already struggling to keep their heads above water during this fiscal crisis. To ask them for even more shows that, when it comes to this rate hike, the water board is all wet.