August 15 2017-- In a letter released this past Wednesday, Sea Cliff Mayor Ed Lieberman, citing recent rate hikes by New York American Water, the for-profit corporation that has a monopoly over water service in Sea Cliff, announced that the Board of Trustees has "decided to pursue avenues of litigation challenging rate charges and fees authorized by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and billed by NYAW. " The decision was arrived at unanimously by the four board members present (Mr. Lieberman and trustees Kevin McGilloway, Robin Maynard, and Dina Epstein) during the board's executive session following the August 9 public conference. Additionally this past Monday, the Mayor sent a letter to Governor Cuomo to request that he use his executive authority to suspend the PSC's decision regarding the rate increases.
This past June, the PSC granted permission to the water company to levy rates and fees that have increased customer's water bills on average by just over 60% in the district that serves Sea Cliff, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing, and Old Brookville. The average customer, using 8,000 gallons per month will see his annual costs rise from about $800 to over $1300.
"In recent weeks ratepayers of New York American Water Company's Sea Cliff Water District have witnessed a massive increase in their water bills," wrote the Mayor. "At the same time, Sea Cliff residents have reported a perceptible deterioration of the service and quality of water."
During its discussions, he continued, the Board "concluded that not only was the decision of the Public Service Commission unfair and inequitable but also may be contrary to law."
Additionally the Mayor stated that the Board would continue to seek a "legislative solution" which former Mayor and current Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy had originally advised back in 2015.
Mr. Lieberman said that he and Mr. Kennedy have already attended meetings with NYAW officials as well as with civic leaders in Glen Head and Merrick, a separate district but one that is also served by NYAW and facing similar issues. Additionally, the Village Board submitted comments to the New York Public Service Commission while they were considering the most recent application from NYAW to raise rates, the Mayor said.
Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Kennedy were panelists at this past Wednesday's forum sponsored by the the Glen Head Glenwood Civic Associations.
This past Monday, August 14th, the Mayor sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting the the suspension of the rate increase.
"We respectfully request that you use the vast power bestowed upon you as Governor of the Empire State to issue an order suspending the order of the PSC and re-opening the hearing for further testimony and evaluation," he wrote. "We further request a forensic audit by the Comptroller’s Office be done of this privately held public utility company. Shy of legislative action, the People would be forced commence legal action which would only create an adversarial position for all sides and incur further costs to the ratepayers." (See full letter here)
BACK TO WEEKLY