At a City Council meeting on May 22, city officials and members of the public were presented with preliminary figures outlining a potential increase in Glen Cove residents’ water rates.
The presentation included projections for potential rate hikes of 25, 35 and 40 percent. For the average residential ratepayer, they would amount to a quarterly water bill increase of between $18 and $28. The average commercial ratepayer would pay between $69 and $111 more.
With increases at those levels, Clarson’s projected additional revenues for the city of between $702,000 and $1.1 million.
The city’s water rates have not been raised since 2004, according to a presentation prepared by City Controller Sandra Clarson. A chart included in the presentation showed that if the city had charged “only 2.5 percent more per year, today’s rates would be 41 percent higher.”
Mayor Tim Tenke put the blame for the city’s beleaguered water infrastructure — for which the council recently presented a nearly $4 million bond — on the un-changed rates, and the fact that the city hasn’t always followed a state law requiring that municipalities’ water revenues be used to pay expenses, including repairs and upgrades to the water system.
“The can has been kicked down the road long enough,” Tenke said.
Councilman Joseph Capobianco asked Clarson what percentage increase would pay for the $235,000 in interest the city will have to pay on its recent bond in 2019, adding that after doing some rough math, he believed it would take a rate hike of approximately 10 percent. Clarson replied that she didn’t have figures for that specific situation, but, she added, Capobianco’s estimates were likely sound.
According to Clarson’s presentation, of the approximately $2.8 million in water fees the city collected in 2017, about 70 percent of that revenue came from residential customers.
Councilwomen Pamela Panzenbeck and Marsha Silverman asked to be presented with options for a tiered-rate system that would reward those who used less water by charging them less, in the hope of incentivizing conservation. Clarson said she would look into it.
The average commercial customer uses about 3.5 times as much water as the average residence, although businesses account for about 11 percent of the city’s more than 30,000 water customers. The businesses that use the most water — over 1.1 million gallons per quarterly billing period — are charged less per gallon than those in the middle tier of water usage.