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Dec 10, 2018 2:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

HBWD To Present Opposing Argument To SCWA Proposal To Manage Local Water Next Week

HBWD Superintendent Robert King. PRESS FILE
Dec 12, 2018 11:12 AM

Hampton Bays Water District officials will break their silence next week when they are expected to present an argument opposing a proposal to have the Suffolk County Water Authority take over the day-to-day management of the locally owned district at a second hearing on the plan.

To date, district employees have not publicly disclosed the rationale behind their intense opposition to the merger, having rejected Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s offer to speak at the first public meeting on November 28. A second and final public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hampton Bays High School auditorium, at which the water district officials are expected to speak.

The majority of residents who attended the first meeting were opposed to the merger, which, if approved by the Town Board, whose members also serve as commissioners of the HBWD, would include $6.1 million in infrastructure upgrades, with the cost spread out over the entire SCWA system. SCWA officials said the deal also would offer higher-paying jobs to the Hampton Bays Water District’s current full-time employees. Under the agreement, water district employees would be absorbed into SCWA’s Westhampton Beach office on Old Riverhead Road.

Lifelong Hampton Bays resident Warren Booth, a maintenance mechanic with the water district, declined to comment on the district’s upcoming presentation when reached on Thursday, December 6. District Superintendent Robert King did not return multiple requests for comment this week.

Mr. Booth has, however, taken his argument to social media. On a Hampton Bays community page on Facebook, he argued that water quality will decrease and rates will increase under SCWA.

Currently, Hampton Bays residents who are customers of the water district who use 3,500 cubic feet of water, or 26,182 gallons, pay approximately $44.80, including usage fees—the average customer pays $132 annually through a property tax bill to the water district—and other charges. The same amount used by an SCWA customer costs roughly $46.72.

Under the agreement, the Town Board would continue to set the rates paid by customers, and the water district would maintain ownership of the district’s infrastructure.

In previous interviews, Mr. King has argued that the water district is one of the few locally owned entities left in Hampton Bays, noting that he would hate to see the hamlet’s residents lose control.

And many district customers feel the same.

Allen Schneider, a lifelong resident of Hampton Bays, said on Monday that the hamlet’s water quality would likely see a drastic turn for the worse, especially during peak season. He argued that SCWA has had its fair share of water quality and pressure issues across the island, noting that the authority might pull water from Hampton Bays to fill demand elsewhere.

Additionally, he explained that the current water district employees are a big part of the community. “Those guys are strong members of the community,” he said, adding that a number of the employees are also volunteer firefighters and emergency responders. He explained that if HBWD employees are working out of Westhampton, response times will worsen.

“There’s so many little things that they do—it’s hard to quantify. It's not just the water coming out of the pipes,” he said.

At the first public meeting, Laura Smith, who spoke as a Hampton Bays resident and HBWD customer, expressed similar concerns over volunteer response time and increased water rates.

As for infrastructure upgrades, Mr. Schneider, during an interview on Monday, and Ms. Smith, at the November public meeting, acknowledged that the work needs to be done, but both said they would prefer it be done locally.

Ms. Smith, who also serves as the president of the Southampton Civil Service Employees Association, had also noted that the Town Board should apply for state grants to lower the costs associated with the infrastructure upgrades, as well as get estimates for the work from agencies other than the SCWA.

Based on calculations, completed last month by Southampton Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese, the average homeowner’s tax bill would increase by roughly $80 per year to cover the cost of upgrading the district’s current infrastructure if the merger isn’t completed and the work is tackled by the water district on its own.

Under the operational agreement, the cost of those improvements would be shared among the water authority’s 1.2 million customers throughout Suffolk County—rather than just the hamlet’s 6,400 customers.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman has said that the plan is to make a decision by the beginning of the new year.

In the meantime, the town has delivered hard-copy surveys to each of the district’s customers—each imprinted with a specific QR code to avoid duplicate responses—to better understand the community’s position.

A previous online survey, which was intended to do the same, was met with strict opposition last month. Some residents argued that the results could easily be tainted, noting that there was nothing to prevent someone from filling it out multiple times.

Pointing to the revised survey, Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier said: “It helps guide us to understand what the community wants.”

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The great and powerful Oz will speak . . .
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Dec 11, 18 6:35 AM
The Hampton Bays Water District charges more for water, neglects the infrastructure, provides unsafe water for months at a time, and then intentionally misleads the public to save their little fiefdom.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 18 9:57 AM
How much does HBWD charge? How much does SCWA charge?
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 18 12:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
From the article above:

Currently, Hampton Bays residents who are customers of the water district who use 3,500 cubic feet of water, or 26,182 gallons, pay approximately $44.80, including usage fees—the average customer pays $132 annually through a property tax bill to the water district—and other charges. The same amount used by an SCWA customer costs roughly $46.72.
By Red Flag (51), Southampton on Dec 12, 18 8:06 PM
The HBWD has admitted that for typical low-use household in HB the HBWD charges customers 50% more, when you include the water tax rate on a $390,000 home.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 18 8:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Pres is aware that their reporting on the rate comparisons is flawed (because of averaging) and they are considering a deeper dive into rates which will show that most households pay more with HBWD than they would with SCWA.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 18 8:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
All I want is to be able to go to the tap and take a glass of water,at this time I do not feel safe drinking the water with the result I am paying double for the water I drink.When the HBWD delivered water to me during the Summer it was dark brown and ruined my water heater,when I spoke to three members of the water authority the vague answer I received was “yes the water is safe but I would not drink it”Please be responsible and let the SCWA deliver the water to us we deserve no less.Mr ...more
By watchdog1 (542), Southampton on Dec 11, 18 10:16 AM
2 members liked this comment
Why do you pay double? I pay a water bill to both companies and mine is not double. Please explain why this is?

Can you guarantee that the water is better with SCWA? They have had problems with their water also. Look for the news stories.

There will never be a vote.
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 18 12:48 PM
He's never there! What a joke!
By Bugal (14), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 18 2:11 PM
How often are you there?

I see him there, not sure why you don't.

It's interesting that the only posts you have ever made are against this topic.
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 18 12:46 PM
Everyone has to come to the next meeting. The safety of our water in Hampton Bays is important enough to fill that auditorium!!
By 11946HB (8), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 18 5:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
What is so difficult to understand HB Water employees and fans?

A bigger water management system and the costs are increased to cover the maintenance projects that HAVE BEEN NEGLECTED FOR YEARS!!!

HB employees get a higher salary! What is the problem!

We need the intelligent public to go and fill that auditorium!! Stand up and hvae your voice heard! THis is OUR water system and the SILENT MAJORITY has to become a VOICE HEARD FOR OUR FUture HEALTH!!!
By Red Flag (51), Southampton on Dec 12, 18 8:05 PM
Updated December 11, 2015 4:14 PM

A Hampton Bays man who stole $50,000 from a scholarship fund created in honor of a victim of the 911 terror attacks surrendered to police Thursday, authorities said.

Warren K. Booth III, 51, acting as the fund’s administrator, stole the money from the Arthur J. Jones III Scholarship Fund, founded to honor a 1982 graduate of Hampton Bays High School, Southampton Town police said.

Booth, charged with grand larceny and held overnight, ...more
By dfree (807), hampton bays on Dec 13, 18 8:21 AM
Again, let's stick to the topic of our water in Hampton Bays.
By Resident tax (183), Hampton bays ny on Dec 13, 18 9:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
The fact that the main spokesman for the HBWD was arrested for stealing $50,000 is relevant to selecting who should manage the HBWD.
By Bayman (56), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 18 10:25 AM
"Lifelong Hampton Bays resident Warren Booth, a maintenance mechanic with the water district, declined to comment...

Mr. Booth has, however, taken his argument to social media. On a Hampton Bays community page on Facebook, he argued that water quality will decrease and rates will increase under SCWA.'

I hardly see how posting his opinions on his FB page make him a 'the main spokesman'.

I am by no way excusing his actions. But until someone shows us how this behavior ...more
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 18 1:21 PM
Aug 21, 2015 12:43 PM
The Washington Avenue home that was destroyed by a fire on Thursday night in Hampton Bays belongs to Hampton Bays Fire District Commissioner Rob King.

Mr. King said he was inside the home with family members when the fire started around 5:20 p.m., but they able to get out before the flames quickly spread throughout both floors of the two-story house.
By dfree (807), hampton bays on Dec 13, 18 8:24 AM
I think we should stick to the topic of HBWD.
By Resident tax (183), Hampton bays ny on Dec 13, 18 9:41 AM
I'd think this post was in relation to the accusations that Mr. King is never here. Having no home did lead to issues in his personal life.

But I agree, stick to the topic. Will HB be better off losing control of our water and going to a large organization? Personally, I think we have little enough control.

Does anyone know if the Town Board has discussed getting grants for the needed upgrades? They were supposed to oversee. Now instead of overseeing they just want to give ...more
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 18 1:26 PM
The cause of the contamination of the Hampton Bays water supply is the reckless use of fire retardant foam over the water supply. Both the Hampton Bays Fire Department, where the wife of the Chief has been ensconced as financial chief, with dubious qualifications to say the least, and the Water Department, where a leader of the opposition to this transfer of responsibility is a thief of High School scholarship funds while he was on the School Board, indicate a lack of trustworthy leadership.

Hard ...more
By dfree (807), hampton bays on Dec 14, 18 7:13 AM
Sadly, I'm not convinced that SCWA is trustworthy. I understand the issue with the foam used by the Fire Dept was used extensively by other fire depts. Are you saying they knew there was an issue and used it regardless? How did they get this product if other fire depts weren't using it? Too many questions and not enough clear answers.

The town board does not put propositions like this out for a vote by the public.
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Dec 16, 18 11:31 AM
Yes I am saying that the HB Fire Department was reckless in its use of fire retardant foam over our water shed, that members of the HB Fire Department are also members of the Hampton Bays Water Department and that financial oversight is suspect due to nepotism in the HB Fire Department. The links between these two local agencies, and the employment of an untrustworthy individual who is in the Hampton Bays Water Department and who was formerly on the Hampton Bays School Board leads me to believe ...more
By dfree (807), hampton bays on Dec 16, 18 1:29 PM
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