East Aurora’s new policy to send water bills to property owners rather than tenants led one manager to come before the Village Board to protest the change.
“I’m trying to figure out why it was necessary,” said Jerry Thompson, associate broker with Century 21 and a former village trustee. “I wish, before it just starts, you guys vetted it more.”
The ordinance change, passed without comment last month and set to take effect at the time of the September water bill, was intended to streamline the billing process. It is also supposed to make it easier for the village to collect overdue water bills.
Tenants owe about $6,000 of the village’s $27,000 delinquent bills, said Mayor Allan A. Kasprzak.
“Who knows where it could escalate from there?” he said, adding that Thompson’s concerns about the new rule would be reviewed at an upcoming Water Committee meeting. “We’re just looking for some type of thing to get what’s owed to us, basically.”
The village, which has 386 tenants getting water bills, is making do with limitations of its own, Kasprzak said.
“We are working with the skeleton staff we have right now,” the mayor said. “We have been working to lower water rates throughout the village.”
Trustee Patrick J. Shea said it is easier for the village to collect the $6,000 it is owed from a small number of landlords instead of a larger group of tenants.
“We’re changing the relationship,” Shea said after the meeting. “It’s making it a much smaller equation.”
While the village sees the new way as simpler, Thompson calls it an unnecessary layer of complexity. Unpaid water bills are eventually added to landlords’ tax bills, he said. “Why do they need to send me the tenant’s bill?” he said in conversation after the meeting.
Thompson manages about 20 units with individual water meters and lease agreements that include taking care of the water bill. The system, as is, encourages conservation by letting renters keep the bills down by using less water, he said.
“They’re just throwing the property owner in the middle,” he said of the village. “It makes no sense when the tenants are paying it, anyway.”
Also at the meeting:
• Zoladz Construction, of Alden, with the winning bid of $627,496, was chosen to do landscaping on grounds around buildings at the Roycroft Campus, including the Roycroft Inn on South Grove Street. The project, expected to start in the coming weeks, will be funded as part of a Department of Transportation grant.