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Lawmakers Demand Delay In Water Rate Hike

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TWC News: Lawmakers Demand Delay In Water Rate Hike
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Two city council members wanted Tuesday to delay any talk of a possible water rate increase.

The Department of Environmental Protection has been trying to crack down on people who have not paid their water bills. In December, the council passed legislation giving the DEP permission to slap leins on the properties of water deadbeats.

But the DEP is also still seeking a rate hike to cover operating costs. Brooklyn Democratic Councilman Simcha Felder and Bronx Democratic Councilman James Vacca said the department should wait and find out how well the current crackdown is working.

"They're going to be voting on May 19 for an increase of 14.5 percent without telling the public what the success or failure of this lien sale were," said Felder.

"I think the city has to stop the constant increasing of rates. They have to wait for the lien sales to take effect for us to see how much revenue we have. We have to have a water system in this city that no longer is out of control when it comes to rates."

Public hearings have been scheduled to give residents a chance to weigh in on the proposed 14.5 percent rate increase.

DEP officials said delaying the rate increase is financially unwise.

"Revenues generated by the Fiscal Year 2008 lien sale are needed for the operation of the system this year," said DEP spokesman Michael Saucier, "and the rate currently under discussion is about the projected needs of the system next year, Fiscal Year 2009."

If the water board approves the hike, it would take effect in July and would be the second double-digit increase in as many years.
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