MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Water rates will increase by 15 percent in the Village of Mamaroneck and Greenhaven in Rye Brook following Monday night’s Board of Trustees meeting.
After a long speech and presentation given by a representative from the Westchester Joint Water Works, the board approved the 15 percent water rate increase by a vote of 3-2. The increase is effective immediately.
“I think to turn this down, with all due respect to my fellow trustees, would be an incredibly irresponsible move,” said Mayor Norman Rosenblum. ”There are future commitments on the part of Westchester Joint Water Works and now, as mayor and the chair of the Westchester Joint Water Works board, this village is looking at their fair share.”
WJWW purchases an estimated 4.5 billion gallons of water from New York City each year, water officials said. As New York City continues to raise the price of its water each year, the WJWW needs to increase its rates to cover the water cost, plus the costs of running a company, officials said. This year, New York City increased its rates by 9.8 percent.
According to the WJWW representative, New York City has taken on numerous projects to maintain and ensure the safety and quality of the water, which has forced it to increase costs. The increase in the water rate this year is also intended to help future unexpected increases and pipeline funding, he said.
However, Village of Mamaroneck Budget Committee Chair Leon Potok took to the podium to point out what he thought were some transparency issues in the budget increase. According to Potok, and then confirmed by the WJWW representative, a water filtration plant was supposed to be built by 2008 but, due to litigation hold ups in Harrison, the plant was never built.
Potok said he believes WJWW is raising water rates to pay for fines the utility is accruing for not meeting the state required deadline to complete the project. He said he didn’t feel it was fair for residents to pay for future fines.
The fines will not be imposed until there is a negotiated settlement between the state and WJWW, according to the representative. This process would involve the Health Department and the State Attorney General’s office.
Board member John Hofstetter said the average rate increase by New York City over the last 12 years was 10.1 percent and that the village’s water rate increase average was 11.4 percent, making it higher than other surrounding communities.