The Suffolk County Water Authority board last night trimmed a proposed 4.2 percent increase to just 1.2 percent, crediting sales of surplus land for the reduction.
Officials said the rate increase will cost $3 more a year on the current average bill of $340 for customers who uses 160,000 gallons annually. The increase will take effect April 1.
James Gaughran, authority chairman, credited the smaller increase to the agency's sale of a half dozen surplus parcels over the last two years that has brought in about $3 million.
The board decision comes after the authority last week closed on its largest sale yet, $1.56 million for 7.8 acres along the Long Island Expressway on Old Nichols Road off Exit 58 in Islandia, once slated to become the authority's corporate headquarters.
The buyer was Exit 58 Islandia LLC owned by Crane Neck Co. LLC, whose managing partner is Cary F. Staller, a member of a prominent Long Island real estate family. The sale also includes a total access easement agreement on an additional .786 acres, making the total acquisition 8.5 acres. The authority is retaining 2.4 acres as a potential site for a future well field.
The originally proposed rate hike was the fourth year of a five-year rate plan, recommended by outside consultants Black and Veatch, which called for a 4.2 percent increase annually. However, the five-member authority board had earlier decided to take increases on a year-by-year basis to determine if the increases could be curtailed. This is the first year the board has lowered the increase.