Reforming the Water Board's Capital Budget
January 21st, 2009

In 2006 the Water Board projected that expanding and improving the city’s water system would cost $1.6 billion. By 2007 they had raised that estimate to $3.5 billion. In the end, they spent nearly $3.8 billion.

Improving such projections and the oversight of that spending is but one of the reforms needed to improve the Board’s capital budget, according to a new article by Harold Shultz of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. (The piece was published in The Stamford Review, an annual journal.)

But the city should also spread out those infrastructure investments in order to avoid accumulating debt, he argues. And the funding for the investments should be born equally among New Yorkers, he continues, rather than solely on the backs of property owners, as it currently is.

Many of the arguments laid out in the article gained publicity during last year’s water rate hike debate.

To help pay for those investments, Gail Shaffer, former New York secretary of state, writes in the same journal that the state should update the bottle deposit law. It should include non-carbonated beverages and redirect unclaimed deposits towards water quality projects, she says. Shaffer also calls for generating hydroelectric power at some of the city’s dams and using the money generated from that for maintenance of the dams.

Now that the Democratic Party has the majority in the State Senate, passage of a new deposit law seems likely. Antonie Thompson, the new chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, told that expanding the law “is just a step we need to take.”

On Jan. 29, a panel sponsored by the Women’s City Club of New York and Housing First! will also discuss the Board’s finances and recommend reforms.

By on January 21, 2009, 7:10 pm
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