Water over the damn
STU BYKOFSKY, DAILY NEWS COLUMNISTPOSTED: Friday, August 29, 2014, 3:01 AM
WHEN ADAM Lang got a bill in July from the Water Revenue Bureau, it hit him like an ALS bucket of ice.
Part of the jolt was the amount - $760.60 due on a property he bought at a Philadelphia Housing Authority auction in April 2012. The bill jumped to $943.62 in August.
The biggest shock was the address. The bill was for water used at 2047 Master St., an empty lot. There is no building on it now and there was no building on it when he bought it.
A computer network engineer, Lang also bought a house at 2129 Master St. at the same time, both as investments. It was sealed when he bought it and it remains sealed to this day. He has lived at 2111 Master St., on the same block in the Sharswood neighborhood, for eight years.
The Water Revenue Bureau billed him $758.09 in July for the sealed house. That swelled to $940.54 in August.
The 36-year-old Lang received the first bills for each after owning the properties for more than two peaceful years, during which there was not even a drop from the Water Revenue Bureau. Then, came the flood.
When he got the bills, he was shocked. When he showed them to me, I was stunned. When I revealed them to Department of Revenue spokeswoman Vicki Riley, she was - well, she had to look into it, but was clearly surprised about a water bill flowing from a vacant lot. The Water Revenue Bureau is a division of Revenue.
When he received the July bill, Lang says, he put it aside, because, "I sort of figured it was a mistake so wasn't too concerned about it." Shrugging it off, he didn't notify the Water Revenue Bureau.
You know what's coming next.
In August, new bills - with late fees - came pouring in.
Lang got a new attitude.
He went to the Water Revenue Board in the Municipal Services Building and reported the issue. He was told an investigator would go out within the next 30 days to see what had happened.
While waiting, Lang contacted me.
I contacted Riley.
While we wait for Riley to dig up answers to some of my questions, let's reflect on other things that routinely go wrong in the age of technology.