Today’s news:

Proposed Water Board rate hike unfair to middle−class residents

As president of Glen Oaks Village, a co−op of 10,000 residents, we currently pay close to $2 million in water and sewer charges annually. Just four years ago, the cost burden on our residents was half that.

The city Water Board must cancel its proposed 14 percent increase on water and sewer rates. Working−class folks living in communities like ours cannot afford these increases thrust upon them year after year. The Water Board is an agency that is seriously out of touch with its rate payers — or worse, it does not care.

If this was a private company, it would have been out of business long ago. Double−digit increases are just not sustainable and are creating serious financial hardships for many co−op and single−family homeowners. Water is not a luxury and increasing its cost by 14 percent, a rate far in excess of inflation, hurts those who can least afford it.

Residential co−ops are the last bastion of affordable housing in our city and continued increases such as this will kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Year after year, we go through this charade. The Water Board proposes a double−digit increase and our elected officials trip over themselves running to the nearest microphone to oppose it. Unfortunately for homeowners, this is not a game, but “Water Boarding,” New York City−style: a slow, torturous process in which the Water Board holds hearings, listens to public comments, dangles the false hope of rate relief and then approves the same pre−ordained, double−digit increase it originally proposed at the beginning of the process.

If the Water Board refuses to back down on its proposed hike, then my first order of business, if elected to the City Council, will be to introduce legislation that will allow co−op and single−family homeowners to fully deduct water and sewer rate increases above the rate of inflation from their property tax bills.

This would cap water rate increases, regardless of the actions taken by the Water Board. The Council has the jurisdiction to do this and the state Legislature would not deny them that ability. My legislative solution is the life preserver we need to keep us from drowning under the weight of these ever−increasing water bills.

Innovative ideas and creative solutions to problems we face will not come about until a new crop of council members are elected.

Bob Friedrich

President

Glen Oaks Village

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