Friday, January 13, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere. . .

Tax Dollars Flow Like Water In Nassau County

Long Island is surrounded by water. It is also blessed with an abundant aquifer system and is home to numerous streams, lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries. But, according to Board of Assessors Chairman Harvey Levinson, Nassau County has over 50 separate water districts, corporations and authorities providing drinking water to homeowners at widely different usage charges and property tax rates.

In conducting his analysis of some 400 taxing authorities in Nassau County earlier this year, Assessor Harvey Levinson was not surprised to learn that water provider usage charges were as widely varied as the property tax rates imposed by other special taxing districts operating throughout each town.

According to Assessor Levinson, the variation of water usage charges based on a typical residential use of 100,000 gallons per year showed that homes in the Town of Hempstead are being charged anywhere from $79 to $426 with property taxes ranging from $38 to $205 for a house valued at $450,000. A similar sampling examined in the Towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay showed a water usage charge ranging from $84 to $330 and a property tax levy varying from $5 to $300 for a property of equal value.

“When a glass of water costs more than a glass of milk or your neighbor across town is paying a different price for a glass of water, you have to question whether or not your money is being well-spent and if there isn’t a better way to provide services for these rapidly aging water systems,” stated Assessor Levinson. “That is why I am calling for the creation of a special investigative committee (comprised of engineers and financial experts) to evaluate water district operations to see if they are truly providing the most cost-effective means of delivering water to our homes.”

Assessor Levinson went on to suggest that all public water districts be placed under a single water authority mirroring that of Suffolk County. The residential charge under the Suffolk County Water Authority is approximately $200 for 100,000 gallons of water used each year.

“Since public authorities fall under the jurisdiction of the State, regulatory action is needed to create a regionalized approach, single tariff pricing and a uniform tax rate by town,” stated Assessor Levinson. “I am also requesting that the committee examine the widely different charges that are imposed on our fire departments for the use of water hydrants. There is no reason why one fire district should be paying $519 to rent water hydrants from their local water carrier when another water company’s charge might be $65 in a different section of a town!

“Recently I had the privilege of touring the Plainview Water District and was witness to a clear example of a professionally-run organization,” concluded Assessor Levinson. “It is my hope that increased scrutiny aimed at these “invisible” layers of taxation will result in an exchange of ideas and creation of a water delivery system that will provide substantial tax savings to all homeowners throughout each town.”

Water District Comparison
( pdf format files - ®Adobe Acrobat Reader Required )
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1 comment:

  1. Do we pay for air? Just checking, I am sure they will hire some one to be commissioner of air real soon. I can't believe they let air be free for so long. I must be wrong, air isn't free, most of us are starting to choke from these high taxes. Now that would be a nice tip from TOH, telling us how they will cut taxes so we can breathe a little easier