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American Water, Town Discuss Public Takeover

President of New York American Water and Hempstead Town spokesman evaluate the current situation.

While the (WASENC) continues to examine a potential public takeover of the privately owned Long Island American Water (LIAW), multiple pieces of the current scheme spoke about the future of water in Nassau County.

Aqua America sold its seven New York water systems to New York American Water (NYAW) for $39 million in May. LIAW, which is based in Lynbrook and serves homeowners in Malverne, Lynbrook, Lakeview and parts of West Hempstead, is a subsidiary of NYAW.

Bill Varley, president of NYAW, said that as a result of the May acquisition of Aqua New York, his company is required by the New York State Public Service Commission not to increase rates until April of 2015.

"So there's more than a 26-month moratorium on rates," Varley said.

In early July 2012, Claudia Borecky, president of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association, of LIAW, citing a school taxes as a major problem in her case.

Aqua paid taxes to 33 school districts. Twenty-seven of those school districts are not served by Aqua. For example, Aqua paid $64,446 in 2010 to North Merrick School District, which residents are served by Aqua. However, Aqua paid $304,061 to East Meadow School District, which has public water.

However, Varley confirmed that the LIAW is not responsible for the distribution of those school taxes.

"Here's my responsibility: I get a tax bill from the County of Nassau which has the school taxes," Varley said. "How it's distributed or not distributed is not really my purview. All I know is that we pay our taxes and it gets distributed."

According to WASENC's website, in April 1997, the original authority board members voted to stop seeking a takeover at that time citing the concerns residents had with regards to school tax revenue.

"Those revenues of course would have to come from somewhere and, as most people would recognize, the most likely place for those monies to be recouped would be through the taxpayers in the district," Town of Hempstead spokesperson Mike Deery told Patch.

"Previous studies have indicated that the savings would be primarily realized as a result of an authority not having to pay property taxes and residents have not wanted that in the past," Deery added. "They want support for their local schools."

Borecky continued her in blog, citing that "the disparity in the cost of public water versus private water was not that great" the last time WASENC attempted a study of public takeover.

Deery agreed to an extent, stating that a number of factors have changed over the years, which is why Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto called for the reactivation of WASENC in September 2010.

"They thought it was time to take another look," Deery said. "Times have changed and the economic factors may have changed somewhat."

A from WASENC has been commissioned to start in September.

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