Cecilia DowdJul 11, 2018, 2:28 pm

State Report: Water utility overcharged customers on the North Shore, covered up mistake

Officials are calling for an in-depth probe into the allegations against New York American Water

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LONG ISLAND — Sky-high water bills have residents on the North Shore crying foul after a new report on their water company says they overpaid. Residents, however, say they have paid well over what the report found.

“Some people are making decisions, do they eat? Use the water? Do they not pay another bill? I mean we're talking about monthly bills averaging anywhere from three, $400 to seven, $800 a month,” says Assemblyman Michael Montesano.

The affected residents get their water from the private company New York American Water, as FiOS1 News has previously reported.

The report from the Dept. of Public Service found that New York American Water overcharged customers, then tried to cover up the mistake.

“We suspected there were some irregularities, but not to the irregularities that I’ve seen to this level. Especially that the report is indicating they intentionally submitted to the PSC fraudulent documents, they lied before an administrative law judge during the hearing, and when confronted with the irregularities, they didn't correct it and still held their position and refused to change it,” Assemblyman Montesano says.

“It's completely embarrassing. I mean, you get together with friends that are in the next town and they're embarrassed to tell you because they pay eight, $10 a month,” says Chairman of the North Shore Concerned Citizens Group George Pombar.

The report found that customers overpaid by a total of about $280,000 because the company overpaid its taxes by several million dollars. The company then allegedly tried to cover up its errors.

The report says:

"In Staff's opinion, the failure to disclose was not a result of the company's negligence, which is itself troubling, but rather, of the Company's intent to deceive."

While the report may be validating to residents like Pombar, it's not enough.

“We want this company out of here. We want help from Albany to get this company out and allow a local municipality like Jericho to supply water to us,” Pombar says.

As for a reimbursement resulting from the errors laid out in the report…

“..$65 reimbursement, which is ludicrous. It’s completely peanuts compared to what they've been overcharging us over for years,” Pombar says.

New York American Water tells FiOS1 News in part:

"We take this matter very seriously and as staff acknowledged in the report, we have been very cooperative with this investigation. We take full responsibility and we are currently reviewing the report so we can take additional improvement actions."

Assemblyman Montesano says he has reached out for help

“I’ve called upon the Nassau District attorney and state's attorney general to convene a grand jury to have the grand jury conduct an in-depth investigation of New York American Water,” Montesano says.

The DA'S office says it has received calls from the public and is reviewing the allegations raised in the report.

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