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New York American Water seeks 8.3 percent rate hike in Nassau

A privately-owned company that provides water services to about 325,000 residents in Nassau County is seeking an 8.3 percent rate hike that could cost some customers as much as $67 more per year, according to state documents.

New York American Water, which serves 34 communities in Nassau, filed a rate increase request last month with the state Public Service Commission, seeking to raise $8.49 million in revenue. The company, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based American Water, asked the PSC to make the rate hike effective May 29.

The PSC on May 13 deferred the hike until it can conduct a full review of the proposal, including a public hearing. A PSC spokesman said a decision is expected in March 2017.

American Water says the hike is needed to pay for $150 million in capital improvement projects. The company also said its escalating property tax payments are responsible for 20 percent of the hike, officials said.

“We are committed to making necessary investments in water service while being prudent with our operational costs,” said Brian Bruce, president of New York American Water. “Our customers’ water bills will continue to be among the lowest of their household utilities even if the proposed rates go into effect.”

The size of the rate hikes would vary by community.

Residents in the Long Island District would see an average increase of $67 per year while customers in the Merrick District would pay almost $58 more annually, Bruce said.

The Long Island District covers communities including Atlantic Beach, East Rockaway, Island Park and Roosevelt. Merrick includes

Merrick, Bellmore, Massapequa Park and Levittown.

Residents of the Sea Cliff District, which includes Sea Cliff, the City of Glen Cove and the Village of Old Brookville, would not see an increase, Bruce said.

The average New York American Water customer in Nassau pays between $45 and -$55 monthly for water service.

Hal Mayer, an environmental consultant in the Town of Oyster Bay, said while water quality is important “we are always concerned when residents are being asked to pay more for the same services.”

A spokesman for the Town of Hempstead did not respond to requests for comment.

Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock said he would “look into the issue to see if we can hold the line on a water rate increase,” but noted that the cost of challenging a rate hike can exceed the increase itself.

Bruce said the rate increase would be higher if not for reductions in operations and maintenance expenses and other cost savings.

The company has not requested a rate increase since 2011, Bruce said.

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