Readers Write: E.W. plan for well would soak taxpayers

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At the Jan. 12 East Williston water meeting, there was a noticeable change in the narrative from what our elected officials have been telling us over the last few years. 

Previous concerns were with the “fairness” of water prices, then their focus changed to allegations that Williston Park did not wish to negotiate with East Williston in good faith. 

East Williston and Williston Park leaders have finally reached an agreement in principle, allaying these concerns. 

Now East Williston officials seemingly have resorted to a shameless attempt of public fear mongering to push their agenda of building our own water supply, regardless of the cost. 

East Williston contends that legal loopholes and a deteriorating Williston Park water infrastructure present significant risks to our residents. 

Clauses included in the Williston Park proposal discussing “Opt Out,” “Indemnification” are indeed a concern, but are easily surmountable with further good faith negotiations. 

And as far as deteriorating systems go, I would prefer to spread the costs of repair across more than 3,000 users, rather than the 850 in East Williston. 

If East Williston proceeds with this well project, residents should be prepared to pay more for water than they do today. 

Based on updated estimates, it is now assumed that this project can cost anywhere from $7.5 million to 8.5 million, up from previous estimates of $7 million. 

East Williston trustees presented that their base case would result in lowered water costs of approximately $4.76 per 1,000 gallons “after tax” or a 13 percent savings from the current resident rate of $5.47 (and above the Williston Park rate of $4.33).

With the average East Williston household spending a reasonable $765 annually on water, this is approximately $100 in annual savings — assuming you are taxed at the 30 percent rate. 

While $100 annual savings is not chump change, it is not changing anyone’s lifestyle either. 

This also implies that the “before-tax” rate you pay for water will likely be higher than your current rate. 

Before believing the “after-tax” savings from East Williston officials, residents at lower and higher tax rates may not enjoy the full tax savings so you may want to consult with your accountant. 

In my opinion, it is prudent to evaluate this project independent of your tax rate, as it is a likely a marginal benefit at best, and largely used by the mayor to further his political agenda.

Further to this point, in the East Williston “worst-case” scenario, residents will enjoy an abysmal 3 percent “after-tax” savings. 

If you don’t believe this mathemagic presented by East Williston, you can expect your actual water rate to increase by 15 percent to $6.39, with significant risks to the upside.

Residents should be aware that the debt service payments for this project will be included as part of their village taxes, further bloating their annual tax bill. 

Since your tax bill is assessed based upon the value of your home, and not your water usage, you will be paying dearly for this water, regardless of how little you use.

In business, capital projects like this are considered absent of emotion, and when they yield zero or negative Net Present Value they are discarded rather quickly. 

However in public service, these decisions are made by politicians under the guise of public goods, and paid for by taxpayers. 

John Azzara

East Williston

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