Warsaw’s Board of Public Works and Safety this morning opted not to negotiate with the owner of Eastgate Apartments on a $23,238 sewage bill.
The matter first came to the B.O.W. in October after Gerald Kozuch received a letter from Mary Lou Plummer of the Warsaw Wastewater office noting the apartment complex he owns has not paid for city sewage services on 10 units in one building. The shortage was traced back at least 20 years, but Indiana law allows cities and towns to only collect the delinquent fees for a period not to exceed 6 years. (See related)
Eastgate Apartments had been billed for 76 units when there are 86 apartments. Kozuch came to the B.O.W. today asking to negotiate the amount owed down to $20,000 and for the city to allow him 5 years to pay the debt. The city requested a period of 12 months for the complex to pay the back fees.
“We’re having a cash flow issue,” Kozuch explained, noting that he felt the city should take some responsibility for not catching the billing issue, “but we felt that we would accept the bulk of that.”
Kozuch brought his accounts payable employee to today’s meeting. He said Warsaw is the only city that sends separate bills for water and sewage, but the employee seemed to support the city’s stance that the complex should have known something was amiss. He said he contacted Indiana-American Water to inquire why they were only receiving 9 water bills for the 10 buildings. When it was noted two buildings shared one meter, he felt the same applied to the sewage.
“In one aspect I understand,” said Plummer, “on the other hand, we sent out 9 bills and there are 10 bills … and each bill references which building was being billed.”
B.O.W. member Charlie Smith said he was opposed to any negotiations on the amount owed or the one year pay back time Eastgate Apartments was given. “They are already getting a break because Indiana Code only allows us to go back 6 years and we can’t collect interest or fees. I say no compromise on the money and the city isn’t a bank. There’s one year to pay it back or find a lender.”
The B.O.W. voted not to negotiate, which prompted Kozuch to say, “I don’t think we can do that. I just got a loan on that and had a very difficult time with it … If I don’t pay, you’ll just put a lien on the property … My hat’s in my hand; I’m sort of begging you.”
Mayor Joe Thallemer said the B.O.W.’s decision is final, but he agreed to continue discussions with Kozuch at a later date.
In other business:
- Fast Cab had 8 permits approved among the recommendation of the Warsaw Police Department.
- Aesthetic improvements for the Warsaw Municipal Airport terminal were approved. Those improvements will include replacing the ceiling and lighting fixtures, repaint the walls and replace the worn out carpet. Low bids went to Terry Williams Construction and Brouwer’s Carpet.
- The Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory was granted approval to accept the donation of two foam trailers from R.R. Donnelley & Sons. The trailers are essential to the department’s abilities to battle Class B fires, which involve gas or other liquid combustibles.