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Hempstead Town OKs study on Aqua New York takeover
Hempstead Town has entered into an agreement with the Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County to provide funding to help conduct a feasibility study of the possible takeover of Aqua New York Inc.’s water facilities and distribution system.
The Hempstead Town Board Tuesday voted unanimously to give $50,000 — to be combined with an additional $25,000 from the Town of Oyster Bay — to assist the water authority in weighing the potential water rate cost savings and benefits of a public takeover. If the water authority does approve a takeover of Aqua, which serves parts of Hempstead and Oyster Bay towns, the $75,000 would have to be repaid in full to both towns.
“Hempstead and Oyster Bay townships wish to take another look at whether real cost savings can be realized under a public takeover of Aqua New York, Inc., whose customers pay water rates that far exceed those served by public water,” Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said in a statement, adding that the two towns reconstituted the long-dormant water authority in January 2010.
Supporters of a public takeover said it could mean long-term savings for Aqua customers. But authority members argued a takeover would result in the loss of property taxes paid by Aqua, which school districts would have to recoup through increased taxes.
In the meantime, the New York State Public Service Commission is seeking public comments until tomorrow on a petition from American Water Works Co. to acquire Aqua. Comments are accepted through the commission’s 24-hour opinion line at 800-335-2120 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org referring to “Case 11-W-0472 — American Water Works Acquisition.”
Authority officials have said they have the power to take over Aqua’s current service area in Long Island, even after American Water’s potential purchase of Aqua. Ratepayers in the service area would first have to vote on a public takeover.