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East Williston water rate dispute continues amid alternate proposal

Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar at the Williston

Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar at the Williston Park water facility, Jan. 5, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

A request for a water rate for East Williston residents of $3.70 per thousand gallons instead of the current $4.33 is proposed in a letter hand-delivered to the Williston Park mayor's office Tuesday in an attempt to end a water dispute between the villages.

The letter included an alternate proposal for East Williston residents to continue paying the $4.33 rate if Williston Park -- East Williston's water supplier -- takes responsibility for East Williston's water main repairs, which cost about $60,000 annually.

The response to the letter from Williston Park was not promising.

"I'm not in agreement with what they're saying," Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar said Wednesday.

East Williston Mayor David Tanner said he believed his village's residents are being overcharged for water. He said Tuesday's letter was in response to a Williston Park village board proposal sent to Tanner last month.

Included in the Williston Park offer was a proposal to maintain the East Williston rate at $4.33. The proposal called for a compromise on nearly $300,000 in outstanding charges to East Williston for nonpayment of some of the village's water bill and the creation of a long-term water usage agreement for at least 25 years.

The village mayors, their attorneys and some board members have met in three private special meetings that began in January to try to resolve the price issue, but Ehrbar said no progress has been made so he decided to make the offer to East Williston from Williston Park public. He said there had been many questions from the public about what had been involved in the negotiations.

For his part, Tanner said he believed his residents were being overcharged at the $4.33 rate. He said he felt the $3.70 offer was "fair." Williston Park residents pay $4.09 per 1,000 gallons, according to Tanner.

Tanner said the $4.33 East Williston residents are charged would only be acceptable if Williston Park paid to repair East Williston's water mains.

"If they [Williston Park] want to include that in the $4.33 then we could pass on the savings to our residents," Tanner said.

Ehrbar said he did not agree with that approach."Basically, our board hasn't discussed the letter yet so I can't go over it point by point, but I say I disagree with aspects of it," Ehrbar said Wednesday.

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