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Calls to reject water company's rate hike

Long Island American Water customers, fire district commissioners and local elected officials called Tuesday on the state Public Service Commission to reject the company’s new bid for a 7.6 percent rate hike over three years.

The company’s original proposal earlier this year called for a one-time 19.59 percent increase. The company submitted the new rate proposal on Nov. 28.

Under that proposal, the company would impose rate increases on April 1 in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Bills for a typical residential customer would increase 2.5 percent for the first year, 2.6 percent for the second year and 2.2 percent for the third year, commission records show.

Representatives of the villages of Valley Stream, Lynbrook and Malverne spoke against the proposal during a 3 p.m. public hearing in Hempstead Town Hall, saying rate increases would result in double-billing of residents. They argued residents would pay the increases to the water company directly and also would pay indirectly through increased village taxes to cover the increased rental costs of fire hydrants.

Malverne officials and residents also complained about poor water quality provided by American Water.

“We are not looking for Poland Spring out of the tap,” said Malverne resident Thomas Grech. “We just want clean water.”

Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg also spoke out against the proposed hike, citing a 20 percent equity growth by American Water’s parent company.

“If there is ever a time to say ‘no,’ it is now,” Denenberg said.

The company, based in Lynbrook, said in a statement that the proposed increase “is necessary to invest in essential infrastructure improvements while keeping pace with rising property taxes and increasing operational costs.”

American Water, the largest water supplier in Nassau County, provides service to more than 200,000 people in 31 communities in southern Hempstead Town.

The commission is required to decide on the case by March 27.

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