The Philadelphia Daily News reports on the buyer of two auctioned properties — one vacant, one completely sealed-up — on the same street in the Sharswood section of the city.
The man purchased the buildings in 2012 as investments, but nothing has changed in the two years since taking ownership… that is, until he started receiving water bills for both.
In July, the city billed him for $760.60 on the vacant lot. The sealed property was even worse, somehow running up a $758 bill in spite of having no service.
When the bill didn’t get paid — because they were obvious mistakes, right? — the first one jumped to $944 in August, with the second increasing to $941.
He brought the presumably erroneous bills to the attention of the Water Revenue Board (why is that every municipal body sounds like something out of a Philip K. Dick story?) who promised to send out an investigator… within 30 days.
As we’ve seen many times before, bureaucracies don’t generally respond well to insane water bill disputes, so the property owner took his story to the Daily News in the hope of getting a resolution sooner.
A rep for the Bureau tried to explain the problem by saying that it didn’t find out that these properties had a new owner until April. Aside from the astonishing fact that it took one city agency two years to pass on a piece of basic information to another agency, this still doesn’t explain why the owner was being billed hundred of dollars on properties that have no water service or meter.
All the rep for the Bureau would say is that the “bill has been adjusted and the new owner will receive a new bill in the mail.”
As both a Philadelphia resident and someone who covers consumer news, I have a hunch this isn’t the last we’ll hear of this story.