As Rates Soar, Vacca Asks Why the City Is ‘Holding’ Water Money

City Councilman Jimmy Vacca wants to know why the Department of Environmental Protection is keeping tens of millions of dollars in discretionary “holding code” accounts while the city is preparing to raise water rates by 14 percent.
According to a May 2008 report from the Independent Budget Office, the DEP put away $59.3 million into holding codes in 2008 and $94 million in 2009.
At a hearing last week about the pending rate hike, Vacca asked acting DEP commissioner Steve Lawitts about the held money. He wasn’t pleased with the response.
“When I questioned the commissioner, based on my knowledge of this, I questioned him on the stand, I asked him, ‘Why isn’t it transparent,’ and, ‘Why do you have holding codes,’ and, ‘Where did the money go? ‘What was it used for?’” Vacca recalled.