East Williston board approves 24 percent water rate increase

East Williston board approves 24 percent water rate increase
The previous Williston Park water tower, which has been demolished. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The Village of East Williston Board of Trustees voted to approve a nearly 24 percent water rate price increase Monday night.

At a public hearing, the board unanimously approved a resolution approving a contract with the Village of Williston Park, and increasing the water rate for village residents from $5.47 per 1,000 gallons up to 100,000 gallons to $6.79 for the same amount of water.

After 100,000 gallons, the price has been raised from $5.72 to $7.04.

The rate increase is a result of the construction of a new water tower underway in Williston Park. The former tower and system were old and needed repair, according to Williston Park officials.

The current potential cost of the project is around $4.9 million, according to Williston Park officials.

Williston Park residents saw an increase in their water rate in December.

The rate increases for both villages will pay for the construction of the new tower over the course of several years.

The new Williston Park residential rate is $5.14 per 1,000 gallons, up from $3.92 per 1,000 gallons effective in 2012. The residential minimum for the village was raised from $39.20 to $51.14 for 10,000 gallons or less.

The residential rate for every 1,000 gallons over 50,000 per quarter rose to $5.36 from $4.09. The commercial rate in the village is uniform at $5.67 per 1,000 gallons up to and exceeding 99,000 gallons.

Williston Park residents are billed quarterly by their village, and East Williston residents are billed twice a year, in April and October.

There was some disagreement at the meeting among the board members about whether or not continuing to receive water from Williston Park was in the best interest of the community.

East Williston Mayor David Tanner was originally against the continuation of water relations with Williston Park and voted against the contract in May 2016, saying he favored creating a well and tower in East Williston. The village, however, would have needed to use park land and possibly face a lawsuit from a nearby condominium if that option was pursued.

Trustee and former Mayor Anthony Casella insisted that the two villages have always maintained good relations and that the village has been “buying water from them for over 90 years.”

Dissenting opinions on the nature of the water rate relationship were voiced. Confusion initially surrounded whether or not a water rate contract ever existed previously, which it did not, according to Tanner and former Deputy Mayor James Daw.

From 2004 to 2011, Williston Park began to raise the water rate for East Williston significantly, according to Trustee James Iannone, culminating in a lawsuit that East Williston won in trial court, then lost in appellate court.

Williston Park started charging East Williston as a retail consumer with a premium rather than a wholesale customer, East Williston Deputy Mayor Bonnie Parente said.

The new contract ensures “added protection,” according to Parente. East Williston is now subject to water rate rises only when Williston Park’s rates rise as well.

The village previously also considered water connections with Albertson, Old Westbury and Mineola, according to various current and former officials.

Also part of the passing resolution was the doubling of a “connection charge” that most residents will not be subject to, according to Trustee Christopher Siciliano. The previous cost was $50, and the newly approved charge is $100.

Residents’ first bill since the increase, which they can expect in April, will reflect a one-time 58-cent surcharge per 1,000 gallons for the month of December, according to village Treasurer Michael Delury, to account for the increase.

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