HERKIMER — Residents of a trailer park in East Herkimer recently learned they could have their water service shut off and it would be through no fault of their own.
Letters warning of the possible shut-off brought them to Monday’s meeting of the Herkimer Town Toard. Residents of the park at 220 Main Road said they pay their rent to the landlord; he is required to pay the water bill out of that amount.
Town Supervisor Dominic Frank said the owner — identified in documents from the meeting as Andrew Owen — has not paid taxes on the property or water bills in two years. For lack of a physical address, the town has sent registered letters to his post office box in Marcy, but he never signed them or responded in any way. The unpaid water bills are added to the taxes that are owed and turned over to the county, he said. If payment is not made, the county could put the property up for sale by auction next June.
Frank also noted the owner’s license to operate a mobile home park expired in September.
The residents asked for an extension on shutting the water off, and suggested the town install individual water meters for the trailers or set up a payment plan for the residents.
Councilman Daniel Stalteri said if the residents were to pay the bill, they would lose any leverage in their attempts to convince the owner to pay it.
The residents were asked if they had had any contact with the landlord.
“He won’t answer his phone,” one said. “He’s not responding to any of us at all.”
Town Councilwoman Kathy Penree said the board had hoped that by issuing the water shut-off notice, the owner would realize he needed to take action to keep the water service on for his tenants.
If the water bill is not paid the burden will fall on the entire East Herkimer water district, Stalteri said. He said the town board’s goal is to get the owner to pay the bill.
“It’s in his name. He’s liable to pay us,” Stalteri said.
The board agreed to a brief extension prior to a water shutoff, but urged the park’s residents to keep up pressure on the owner with phone calls and by withholding rent.
Questions also were raised about health concerns related to a water shutoff.
Town officials said they are in contact with the state Health Department about the issue.