Tag Archives: public hearing

NYC water rates set to go up again this July


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

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In what’s become an annual rite of spring in New York City, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommended a water rate increase Friday.

Calling it the lowest suggested increase in a decade, the DEP formally requested that the New York City Water Board raise rates by 3.24 percent, even lower than the 4.9 percent increase projected last year.

For owners of single-family homes, their yearly water bills will climb about $33 per year, from $1,025 to $1,058, based on the average consumption of 80,000 gallons per year. Multi-family homeowners will pay, on average, about $23 more per unit annually, from $666 to $689 based on an average annual water consumption of 52,000 gallons.

The DEP will also ask the Water Board to continue freezing the minimum charge for homeowners who use approximately 100 gallons or less per day; these customers are charged $1.27 per day, or $463.55 per year.

“By implementing effective costs controls, refinancing higher interest debt and reducing the rental payment, we are able to deliver the lowest water rate increase in a decade, and the 25 percent of single family homeowners who use the least water will not receive any increase at all,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “In addition, we have put together a package of initiatives to provide relief to nearly 50,000 additional low-income, senior and disabled customers.”

The package Lloyd mentioned includes the proposed expansion of the Home Water Assistance Program, which provides annual credits to low-income families who qualify for the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP); credits for those who enroll in the DEP’s monthly e-billing program; and $100 credits for those who participate in the lead and cooper monitoring program.

Though the DEP touted the reduced increase, one elected official — Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee — said the city needed to ease homeowners’ burdens even further.

“The financial burden of offsetting the costs of maintaining the city’s vast sewer and water system cannot be placed on single-family homeowners, many of whom are seniors,” Richards said. “Considering the hardships that many lower-income families are facing, it is important to retain reduction measures — including a minimum $1.27 daily flat rate and expanding the Home Water Payment Assistant Program to absorb these increased costs.”

Queens residents will get their chance to speak for or against the water rate increase on Thursday, April 30, at the Water Board’s public hearing in Long Island City. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. at LaGuardia Community College, 45-50 Van Dam St., Conference Room E-242. Click here for more details.

The Water Board is expected to formally adopt water rates for the city’s 2016 fiscal year on May 8; the new rates will take effect on July 1.

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Parents, teachers, students fight to keep new schools out of Flushing HS


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Parents, teachers and students at an embattled Flushing school are fighting to keep the city out of their space.

Scores of supporters gathered at Flushing High School to have their voices heard by the Department of Education (DOE) during an agency-hosted public hearing on February 28.

The city plans to add a small district high school and a Chinese bilingual school inside the storied institution. The two new schools would share the building — including the gym, cafeteria and auditorium — with Flushing High School students.

“Our goal is to create a system of great schools that prepare all students for college,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “Designed to meet the needs of individual communities, our new, small schools have delivered resounding results.”

Math teacher Jessica Dimech said the proposal was just another blow to the struggling school after the city unsuccessfully tried closing it less than a year ago.

“You gave us another six months with a stacked deck [and] cut our funding,” said Dimech, also a member of the school’s leadership team. “The DOE time and time again pulls the carpet from underneath us. Please just let me do my job.”

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) is largely expected to vote in favor of the proposal on March 11, sources said. The panel supported the city’s attempt to shutter dozens of city schools last April before a court order reversed the approval.

But the Queens representative on the panel, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, said he would vote against the plans.
“Enough is enough. Flushing High School doesn’t want to be part of a chance experiment,” he said.

According to Juan Mendez, superintendent of Queens high schools, the change would decrease enrollment by 850 students at the crowded school. Flushing would take in fewer incoming freshman under the plan.

There is also a proposal to place an international school, serving English language learners, inside Newtown High School in Elmhurst. The new institution would prepare recently arrived immigrant students for college.

Newtown improved from a “C” to a “B” on its last DOE progress report. Flushing received a “D” in the last two years, recently failing both student progress and performance.

Flushing High freshman Stephanie Kouboulas vouched for “the best teachers” at the school as she broke down in tears.

“You want us just to fade out into the dust and never be here,” said Kouboulas, 14. “Flushing High School has been here a long time. It shouldn’t go anywhere.”

 

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Advocacy group angry with timing of soda ban public hearing


| brennison@queenscourier.com

As city residents descend on Long Island City to attend the public hearing on the proposed ban of sugary drinks, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices questioned the timing of the meeting.

The hearing at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s headquarters began at 1 p.m., a time New Yorkers for Beverage Choices believes prevents many from attending.

“By scheduling this hearing in the middle of a business day during many restaurants’ and delis’ busy lunch periods, the Department of Health is sending a clear message that they are not interested in hearing what real New Yorkers have to say about this proposal,” the group said in a statement.

The organization said they have collected signatures from more than 91,000 residents and 1,500 businesses in the city opposing the ban.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plan to ban sugary drinks above 16 ounces in May.

Today is the lone public hearing. The city’s Board of Health will vote on the measure in September.