On Thursday, July 15, State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford who represents the 8th Senate District, hosted a virtual town hall webinar to discuss accomplishments from the 2021 session, and legislative goals for 2022.
Of the many topics discussed, one that is at the forefront of the senator’s agenda is the status of the bill that would
establish a public South Nassau Water Authority to replace the existing private authority, New York American Water. As previously reported by the Herald, the bill passed on June 11 in the State Assembly and Senate, with 149-0 votes and 63-0 votes, respectively.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet signed the bill.
Francis Palasieki, the district’s legislative director, said the district introduced more than 100 bills during this year’s legislative session. The bill regarding the water authority will allow for the public takeover of NYAW, he added.
“I believe rates from New York American Water are excessive,” Brooks said. “Water should not be subject to any form of tax. It is a natural resource which we are dependent on to support life.”
Brooks, a longtime volunteer fireman, who previously served as the Seaford Fire Department’s chief, explained what he meant by excessive rates.
Using fire hydrants as a reference, Brooks said, “New York American Water charges $699,” compared to the public Suffolk County Water Authority, which charges departments $160 per hydrant. “The Massapequa Water Authority charges even less,” he added.
“This bill now waits for the approval of the Governor,” Brooks said. “This is an open, active, ongoing discussion — a top priority to me. We will be keeping you up to speed on this one.”
Also during the webinar, Joanie Omeste, the district’s external relations associate, discussed the budget for 2021 and projected funding for next session. She said that the $7.1 million budget was distributed to school districts, fire districts, police departments, and libraries. $950,000 of the budget went towards other things, including the Seaford Little League field improvements, SUNY Farmingdale security upgrades and village capital improvements.
Next year, Omeste said they will put funding toward gun violence programs, Alzheimer’s disease programs, and emergency preparedness. Additional capital funding will go towards school districts and fire districts.
The district hopes to introduce new bills next session, reopen ones that did not pass, and continue advocating for the approval of the water bill that would significantly lower the amount of money ratepayers are spending on water in areas serviced by New York American Water.
Though the 2021 session has ended, Brooks will remain active in the area throughout the remainder of the year. The district invited residents to the “2021 National Night Out,” a nationwide event designed to build strong community partnerships that promote safe neighborhoods. This event will take place on Aug. 3 at the Freeport Cow Meadow Park.
To follow the district and view the recorded Town Hall webinar, Brooks is active on Facebook, @Senator John Brooks. Residents can also remain up to date with the district at their website, brooks.nysenate.gov.