Water rates in New York are likely to keep rising next year, but troubling new numbers indicate that cash-strapped homeowners may already be struggling to pay their bills, the NY Daily News reports.
Revenue from water was 11% below projections in the first 19 days of November, far below the first four months of the fiscal year, when it was just 1.4% short.
City officials told the Water Board on Thursday that more money may flow in before the end of November, bringing the total back in line. The number and amount of delinquent water bills are also lower than in the past, they said.
Still, the Department of Environmental Protection plans to send out thousands of past-due letters to customers at the end of the month – and is studying whether the economic crisis is hurting New Yorkers’ ability to pay.
Water rates went up 14.5% in July, and are projected to rise another 14% next year – even though better conservation means New Yorkers are using less water. The DEP’s $19.4 billion decade-long construction program accounts for a big part of the increase, as does the higher cost of debt to pay for it, thanks to the credit collapse.
Left unsaid was the annual payment – $178.6 million this year and rising – that the city siphons from water bills to help balance the budget. The Bloomberg administration has indicated it will work to reduce the amount next year.
(Source: NY Daily News)