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Rep. Grimm, Local Residents Call on City to Waive Water Bills and Fees Until Sandy Victims are Back in their Homes
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Today, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-S.I./Brooklyn) joined Staten Island constituents for a press conference calling on the City to waive water fees for Sandy survivors who have used little or no water in their damaged homes. Even if a home uses no water during a billing period, homeowners are subject to a minimum charge from the City of $1.19 per day. The City is just starting to send out “suspended” bills now, and residents are outraged to find they owe hundreds of dollars (over $300 in some cases) for water they never used at a house they are currently unable to live in. At a time when Staten Islanders are waiting in limbo – whether it be for buyouts, flood maps, or more federal assistance – Rep. Grimm is calling on the city to waive these ludicrous fees until homeowners get back in their homes.
“First I was frustrated and now I’m angry,” said Rep. Grimm. “People are at their wit’s end. Those displaced by Sandy simply want to get back in their homes and back to their lives, but every day they tell me about another obstacle, delay, or fee. Just because someone’s home wasn’t completely swept away or demolished, doesn’t mean they can live in it. It also doesn’t mean they should have to pay these ludicrous water fees. The policy should be that if you’re not in your home because of Sandy, then all fees will be waived until you move back in.”
Homeowners received notices that water bills would be “suspended” until June, though charges would accrue. Homeowners are now seeing the accumulation of those fees when the bills arrive. A suspension is not a waiver, which is why Rep. Grimm is calling on the city to waive these fees.
See the letter below sent to the NYC Water Board:
June 22, 2013
The Honorable Alan Moss, Chairman
New York City Water Board
Department of Environmental Protection
59-17 Junction Boulevard, 8th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373
Dear Chairman Moss:
I am writing to you today in hopes of resolving an issue affecting constituents in my district who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
I have heard a number of residents express concern at having received substantial water bills for homes in which there has been little or literally no water usage since the storm. In some cases, the homeowners would have had difficult accessing water service even if they wanted to due to the extensive damage to their home.
It is my understanding that some of these fees can be attributed to NYC Water Board policies which define service as simply having access to the city’s water main, meaning that customers are subject to a minimum daily charge of $1.19 even if there is no water usage. Given the unique difficulties presented for so many residents of the City, I strongly encourage the Water Board to take action that will lift some of this economic burden off the backs of our Sandy-impacted residents who face the prospect of paying the City for services they are not using while still waiting for assistance from the Build it Back program. As you certainly know, many are facing maxed-out credit cards and drained pension and bank accounts as they work to get their lives back on track. A waiver of the daily $1.19 charge and other fees associated with recovery until people are back in their homes could help lighten their already heavy load and demonstrate once again our unwavering commitment to helping Sandy-impacted residents back on their feet.
Your prompt consideration of this request is truly appreciated.
Michael G. Grimm
Member of Congress