T he owner of a mobile home park whose residents face the prospect of having their water service cut off later this month expects to reach an agreement with the village by the end of the week, if not sooner.
Kevin Gordon, owner of Molinero’s Trailer Park just south of the village on State Route 4, said he expects to reach an agreement with village officials regarding more than $33,000 in unpaid water bills.
Attorneys for both the Village of Whitehall and Gordon were expected to meet yesterday and finalize a payment plan that will avert shutting off water to more than 30 mobile homes located in the park.
“There’s been some miscommunication. There was some missing paperwork that was needed to finish off the agreement. Had I known, this would have been taken care of two weeks ago,” Gordon said Monday, adding that he was hopeful the agreement would be reached when attorneys for both sides meet on Wednesday.
Nearly three dozen households could be without water if Gordon and the village cannot reach a deal involving the unpaid water bills.
Mayor Peter Telisky said the Village Board decided last month to order a Jan. 11 park-wide shutoff after negotiations stalled.
“We’re doing this with a great deal of apprehension. The last thing we want to do is turn off the water. This has been done with a lot of heartache and thought but there no was place else to go,” Telisky said.
But both sides said Monday negotiations have moved forward.
“There is a working dialogue between our attorney and his representative. We have every indication the property owner is going to work with us,” Telisky said.
But unless the village receives the money it is owed or reaches a payment agreement with Gordon, the water will be shut off, Telisky said.
“We can’t give away the water for free, it’s not fair to everyone else,” said Telisky, who added the cost of treating the water costs hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and the village simply can’t afford not to receive payment for water services.
Gordon owes the village $33,500 and hasn’t paid a water bill in more than two years. “I’ve never disagreed that there was a large bill that was due. My only question is the accuracy of the bills,” said Gordon.
There are 32 homes in the park, which are all tied into a single meter but Gordon said the cost of water in the park is three times what he pays in other mobile home communities he owns.
He said an antiquated billing system has led to errors on his bill in the past. He says he often lets his bill goes 6 to 10 months before paying them to spread out expenses.
The village has been combating unpaid water bills since last March when officials discovered the village was owed approximately $142,000 in unpaid bills.
Officials took steps to recover the unpaid bills and a handful of residents paid their bills in full, a few had their water service turned off and most entered into payment agreements with the village.
Telisky said the village is still in negotiations with Gordon and one other user.
If an agreement isn’t reached, officials will notify park residents of the pending shut off before it occurs.
But Gordon said he doesn’t believe it will reach that point.
“The tenants have every right to be upset; I would be upset,” Gordon said. “But I would never let their water be shut off.”