Water Authority awaits rate study results

Justine Schoenbart

The Water Authority of Western Nassau County is waiting on the completion of a rate study that will evaluate the rates charged to each of its four classes of customers.

According to the authority’s superintendent, Mick Tierney, local fire districts have been voicing complaints to the authority regarding increases in hydrant fee rates. The authority currently services 2,432 fire hydrants.

“There have been some requests from the fire districts not to have rates increased any longer,” Tierney said in a phone interview back in June.

Tierney said if the authority were to cease rate increases to the fire districts, the costs would end up being absorbed by residential customers, commercial customers, and business customers — the authority’s other three customer classes.

The authority, which was formed as a public entity in 1996, reduced rates down 64 percent, charging fire districts about $500 per hydrant, Tierney said.

He said the authority froze rates for 10 years, and then increased them in 2007.

“Every single year we prepare a forecasted operating plan based on current numbers, and each year we go and review it,” Tierney said in the June interview. “There’s no profit built into our rates. You know everything.”

In September, the board at the water authority hopes to analyze the completed version of the rate study from engineering consultants Dvirka and Bonelluci and revisit hydrant rates at that time.

“They dig down and look at where we spend time and what it costs,” Tierney said of the study following a board meeting on July 8. “They look at our power costs, do a chemical study, and our material costs. It’s not just an arbitrary study. ”

Although a draft of the study exists, Tierney said the study is still missing miscellaneous charges, such as the fees charged to a customer who needs to shut off water in the streets to do work in their home.

He said he predicts the study will be completed within the next month.

Once the final study is completed, the nine board members will have an opportunity to review the data in September and come to a final decision.

The water authority services New Hyde Park, Elmont, Bellerose, Garden City, Stewart Manor, and parts of Franklin Square and Valley Stream.

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Justine Schoenbart

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