Rye Brook May Shift Cost Of Fire Hydrants To Water Bills

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Rye Brook is considering acting on a new law that would have fire hydrant maintenance paid for through water bills, rather than by taxpayers. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user FlipMode79

RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Rye Brook may change the way its pays for fire-hydrant maintenance by shifting the cost from taxpayers to those who pay water bills.

The cost of maintaining fire hydrants has been paid for by the village, at a cost of about $160,000 per year. Under legislation that passed last year, muicipalities have the option of petitioning the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to distribute the costs across the water-rate base. Village officials are currently deciding whether or not to take advantage of this new law, but are waiting to see how rates would change for customers before making any decisions.

Robert Idoni, superintendent of operations at United Water, said that there are still some questions about how rates will increase for water customers.

"The impact on a normal residential bill can range from 6 percent to 11 percent," Idoni said. The calculations are still being evaluated by the PSC, which sets the rates for utilities.

Some municipalities, including Port Chester, began applying for the rate changes in December. After a municipality petitions, the PSC has 120 days to rule on the rate changes. Idoni said that at that time, United Water will have a better understanding on how much water bills would increase.

Rye Brook was going to vote on petitioning the state for a rate change, but has decided to wait and see what rate increases other municipalities get before submitting its own application. Trustee Jeffrey Rednick said he would be in favor of the bill, as it would spread the cost of fire hydrants to entities that do not currently pay taxes.

"Fire hydrants are something ... used by everybody in the community, they benefit everybody in the community. I believe it's only right that all users in the community contribute to the cost of the fire hydrants," he said. While it may be a shock to residents when they open their water bills and see the increase, they should see savings out of their tax bills, he said.

The Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on the matter at its Feb. 25 meeting.

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