As the saying goes, there are two things in life that are guaranteed: death and taxes. How about adding water rate increases to that list?
Like many other years, Town of Mamaroneck (TOM) residents will see their water rates go up, this time by 15 percent, a two percentage point increase over 2011’s rate.
Although the Town’s increases have typically been in the single digits for the last decade—excluding a rate increase of 18 percent in 2010 and raises of 14 and 15 and 13 percent in three other years—this year’s hike is directly related to the 9.8 percent increase in water rates from Westchester Joint Water Works' (WJWW) main and only supplier: New York City.
In 2011, the annual cost of water consumption for a TOM household was $543.02, an 11.6 percent increase over the average cost in 2010, which was $486.74, according to the 2011 Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) annual drinking water quality report. By comparison, the average Village of Mamaroneck family pays $788.87 annually according to the same report.
WJWW—a non-profit benefit corporation that supplies water to the Village of Mamaroneck (VOM), the Town of Mamaroneck (TOM), and the Village of Harrison—obtains 100 percent of its water supply from the New York City Watershed’s Catskill/Delaware reservoir west of the Hudson River.
Other factors contributing to the rate hike include operation and maintenance costs related to running WJWW as well as funding for the Town’s Water District for capital debt expenses, fire hydrant fees and insurance.
Rate changes will go into effect the day meters are read, unlike in past years when customers could take advantage of a grace period until increases went into effect, usually when meters were read in the early fall.
“Over the last two or three years we’ve been urging each of the municipalities not to have that gap so that you don’t have rate shock every five to six years but there’s more keeping up with NYC,” said Anthony Conetta, WJWW manager, referring to the Town’s water rate increases not keeping pace with the NYC increases.
But the process of setting water rates for predicted usage is not necessarily an exact science and is a little like predicting the weather a year in advance, said Conetta.
“So one of the big assumptions we have to make is how much water are people going to use looking forward,” he said.
Although the proposed increase by WJWW was 12 percent, the Town added in 3 percentage points to fund future capital projects including the construction of a UV filtration plant and transmission pipes as well as smaller projects like the rehabilitation of smaller WJWW water tanks and transmission line replacements.
“We are trying to continue funding water district expenses exclusively through water revenue. In the past 30 years, we’ve never levied a tax on a water district,” said Town Administrator Steve Altieri.
The board approved the increase unanimously.
For additional information on the water rate increase, please visit the town's website here.