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Proposed Water Rate Hikes in Greenburgh Criticized

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - After being walloped with a more than 70 percent water rate increase less than a year ago, several residents and a prominent business told the Greenburgh Town Board another hefty hike was tough to swallow.

"Don't burden the already overburdened taxpayer," said Linda Lorch, a resident since 1973. "I feel the reasons to raise the rates are superficial. Do you know anyone whose salary has gone up 30 percent? You should look at ways to help us save money instead of charging us more."

The Town of Greenburgh Consolidated Water District serves approximately 45,500 residents within the unincorporated town, and a portion of the Village of Irvington, as well as some customers in Mt. Pleasant, White Plains and Yonkers. The district delivers approximately 7.9 million gallons of water daily.

Since 2000, the New York City Board of Water Supply has increased its charges by 193 percent, while costs to Greenburgh customers have jumped 137 percent during the same time period. In order to keep up with the rising costs and expected future hikes, Greenburgh Commissioner of Public Works Victor Carosi said it was necessary for about 10,600 customers to pay more.

"We have a responsibility to deliver safe, clean and quality water," Carosi said. "Compared to some areas, our rates are still considered a bargain."

Under Carosi's plan, the average customer who uses 17,000 gallons of water over three months, rates would rise 24 percent from $71.92 to $89.43 quarterly. Larger water users will see a 35 percent increase from $265 to $360.

One of those larger users is Coca-Cola, which employs 730 workers at a bottling plant in Elmsford and utilizes three times more water than the next larger user. Coca-Cola representative Jeff Quent said the 119 percent combined increase in one year for water would negatively impact operations at the plant.

Resident Hal Samis was harsher in his critique of Carosi, saying his math didn't add up. Samis said he couldn't understand why the town would charge residents $4.83 per thousand of gallons used when New York City was only charging the town $1.21. He also said, even with the rate hike, Greenburgh wasn't going to be able to make a dent in its water debt.

"You're doing something that's politically desirable but we're still behind the eight ball," Samis said.

The town board adjourned the public hearing until its March 20 meeting.

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