WNYT.com

Poestenkill hits fire victim with $1,400 water bill

Posted at: 11/29/2012 4:32 PM
Updated at: 11/30/2012 10:55 AM
By: John McLoughlin

BRUNSWICK - Fire heavily damaged a home and a garage in Brunswick on Monday. It was a mutual aid blaze that involved several fire companies.

Now one of those companies is billing the homeowner $1,400. The town of Poestenkill sent a bill to the homeowner, saying he owes  for the water that was used to help put out the fire.

The fire chiefs in both towns are up in arms over the bill.

Poestenkill Fire Chief David Basle is upset that his own town supervisor wants the homeowner, Michael Pietro, to cough up the money. He says neighboring towns do not usually charge for water used in emergencies.

"I just don't think it's fair to tax the homeowner on that water," Basle said. "It should be just a municipal thing and they should chunk it up to a loss."

Poestenkill Supervisor Dom Jacangelo says his town has a fiscal responsibility "to protect the taxpayers of the water district." He says the town to buy its water from Troy and Brunswick. It pays Brunswick 92 cents per 1,000 gallons, but charges out-of-district users like the burned-out homeowner $20 per 1,000 gallons.

Jacangelo says 73,000 gallons were used at the Brunswick fire, thus, the bill for $1,400.

"What we do expect is that the homeowner will contact us if they have a problem, or the insurance company doesn't accept the claim, and we'll work with them. We'll figure something out," he says.

NewsChannel13 found no one at the scene of the fire Thursday and neither the town nor the fire district has gotten any feedback from Pietro.

The fire chief says this kind situation could do serious harm to the mutual aid system.

No one was hurt in the fire.