NYACK - Officials in Rockland County are speaking out about a proposed 24.5 percent rate hike by United Water.

At a public hearing in West Nyack yesterday, State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski blasted the company for seeking the hike. "When I first heard about [the] 24 percent increase, not only is it unrealistic, it's outrageous," says Zebrowski.

Other state and county officials also say the request is unjustified especially considering the utility's revenue has increased in recent years. "United Water is asking for too many things, the rate increase and a surcharge because of the desalination plant. It's just too much," says Harriet Cornell (D-West Nyack).

State Sen. David Carlucci has launched an online petition to the Public Service Commission asking them to deny the rate hike.

Two public hearings about the rate-hike proposal are set for today at Ramapo Town Hall in Suffern at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.