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Powelson Cautions Long Island Against Condemnation in Letter to Newsday

NAWC president and CEO Rob Powelson penned a letter to the editor of Newsday correcting key points from a recent article about a potential government take over of water systems on Long Island. He explains that condemnation battles have played out across the country and are proven to result in higher costs for residents and communities. He cautions Long Islanders against pursuing a takeover to solve their water challenges and instead proposes eliminating the unfair special franchise tax that places an undue burden on residents. Read the full letter below.

Water article misses some points

I believe the article “NY adopts water standard,” about a potential government takeover of water systems on Long Island, missed the mark on some key points that could lead one to think water companies aren’t properly supporting the communities we serve [News, July 31]. First, important lessons can be learned from other condemnation battles that have played out across the country. The long and complex legal process almost always results in higher costs for residents and communities. To me, the initial cost estimates made by condemnation activists rarely, if ever, pan out in the end. And it is taxpayers who end up with higher costs.

Another lesson comes from Edison, New Jersey. After the local government took over its water system, residents were immediately faced with skyrocketing rates and a utility that admitted it was ill-equipped to handle routine challenges. The article fails to mention that 31% to 55% of water bills paid by New York American customers are taxes, including a special franchise tax, which should be eliminated. The obvious answer to Long Island’s water rate challenges isn’t getting rid of New York American Water but getting rid of the unfair special franchise tax that places an undue burden on residents.

Robert Powelson,
Philadelphia

Editor’s note: The writer is president and chief executive of the National Association of Water Companies.

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