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Water metering; coalition forms to fight back.

WATER METERING

Coalition forms to fight back

With the conversion to metered water rates, property owners in New York City are facing huge increases in water charges without any way to stem the flow.

Declaring the problem an emergency for owners, The Rent Stabilization Association (RSA) and the Bronx Realty Advisory Board, Inc., are forming a Coalition For Affordable Water to determine a course of action.

John J. Gilbert III, RSA president said a strategy meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 18 at 9 a.m., at the 60 East Club at 60 East 42 Street, 27th floor and asked that every rental organization, co-op and condo group and not-for-profit organization attend.

"Throughout the industry," Gilbert said, "whether a building is large or small, the fear of the implementation of water meters is painfully evident." Gilbert said the purpose of this meeting is to get information from owners and to determine a course of action for the future. They will discuss the potential for a lawsuit, he said, and hopefully clarify the rules concerning implementation of metering.

The city metering program began in 1987, and is a 10-year program. Beginning in January of 1991, the city began the metering of multi-family homes in the South West Bronx, Upper Manhattan, the East Side of Manhattan and West Central Brooklyn. He said the city will install about 1,800 meters this year, 3,000 next year and more each year after that.

Gilbert said there are under a thousand buildings which have meters but the bills from those buildings have documented huge increases from the previous average of $275 per unit under frontage to $1,000 per unit with metered rates. "The shock that one feels after getting a bill with an incredible increase like that," said Gilbert, "is terrible. Once it wears off you have to figure out what you are going to do."

Water metering brings an open-ended liability, Bronx Realty Advisory Board president Ruben Klein added. There is no control over what the tenants use, he said, and they do not have to pay the bills.

Even if increases are granted through the Rent Guidelines, Klein noted, "it still leaves the obligation to the owner for paying for other people's sins." Klein indicated the group may request a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) from the courts.

Deborah Beck, vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York, REBNY, said there is nobody representing the rate payer in the public authority water board structure. "There is good reason," Beck said, "to form a coalition to wake up the public authority to the fact that there is somebody out there expected to pay the bills who have needs and limited resources."

Gilbert said they are "turning up the heat" on the City Council members, and have lobbied the water board, "but they have turned deaf ears. We have turned to the commissioner and the mayor, and they are looking at a new wave of abandonment."

Carols Keenan, Esq. executive director of the Bronx Realty Advisory board, said the metered water rates "have the potential to wipe out buildings and with it, wipe out more of the city's tax base, and somebody has to do something about it. No one is going to be careful unless it's their money which is going down the drain," Keenan said.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Coalition For Affordable Water
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 12, 1991
Words:556
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