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Update on New York American Water

Those living within the Merrick Water District (residents of Merrick, Bellmore, North Bellmore, Wantagh, Seaford, Massapequa, Massapequa Park, Levittown and South Farmingdale) along with those who live in the Lynbrook and Seacliff Water Districts, get their water from New York American Water. They pay far more for their water than anyone else on Long Island, because these 124,000 customers in Nassau County receive their water from a private, for-profit company whose objective is to deliver profits to its shareholders.

Approximately 25% of NYAW bills helped their shareholders reap record profits, and enabled their CEO to make $4 million/year. Their rate order gives them at least 9.1% on the base rate, and if they make more, they still get to retain a portion of the profits.Also, when they grieve their taxes, they keep 20-50% of the refunds, even though those taxes were paid wholly by the ratepayers. NYAW has dragged tax grievances over 10 years in order to make millions of dollars more.

And, they get to keep 15% of the amount they overcharge for property taxes in their rates, if they can show that it was as a result of an action they did to reduce the taxes.

As a private corporation, NYAW pays property tax, income tax and sales tax. Municipal water districts are tax exempt. The Public Service Commission allows NYAW to pass 100% of its tax burden onto its ratepayers. Approximately 40% of the water bills pay for taxes on NYAW’s utility properties – a tax that residents of municipal water districts do not pay.

A local group CAWS (Clean Air Water and Soil) has organized to represent the ratepayers in changing this very inequitable situation. They are currently representing them in a Ratepayer Article 78 proceeding, appealing the last order that established the current rates. And, they have raised the awareness of legislators and other leaders, some of whom are finally looking into the issue seriously.

They have also hired an attorney to fight for NYAW ratepayers. You can find additional information at: www.licaws.org.

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