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Public Works Commissioner Asks for Water Rate Hike

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Public Works Commissioner Joseph Nicoletti joined the Common Council at a works session Wednesday to talk about the need for water rate hikes in the range of 8 to 10 percent for those in single family homes and 12 to 15 percent for larger dwellings and non-residential customers.

Nicoletti said the water fund was operating at a $1.375 million deficit and was strained by the rising cost of buying water from New York City, higher electricity rates and the price tag associated with mending two water main breaks and putting out the fire at the Bengal Tiger restaurant last summer.

If the commissioner’s plan is accepted, there would be an 8 percent increase for the first six steps on the basic water schedule and a 10 percent increase for those on the last two steps of the water schedule. Larger, multi-family dwellings and commercial customers on the “excess non-per capital schedule” would see increases of 12 percent on the first six steps and a 15 percent increase on the last three steps. Steps, or pricing tiers, increase as customers use more water.

In addition to higher rates for consumed water, all customers would see a 10 percent hike in the initial “availability” charge associated with being synched to White Plains’ water supply.

Nicoletti estimated an average single family home with four residents would see an annual $24.54 jump in their water bill under the proposed rates.

If adopted, the water rate increases are expected to pull the water fund out of its deficit by the summer of 2013.

Council Member John Martin expressed interest in seeing if the city try to recoup the cost of using 1.7 million gallons of water to put out the fire at the Bengal Tiger restaurant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other organizations.

“When you have an instance like the fire with a $200,000 to $300,00 excess usage, is there any way to recover anything like that?” asked Martin.

Nicoletti said he wasn’t sure, but had not seen the city get reimbursed for other emergency water use costs.

The Common Council is expected to consider water rate increases at its December meeting.

What do you think of the proposed water rate increases? Join the conversation below.

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