Monday, August 11, 2014

Was The Heritage House Water Bill A Result Of Improper Billing?

The Heritage House water bill fell behind because the City of Greensboro was billing the wrong customer.

I give to you Exhibit A:  Active Assessments To 310 W Meadowview

You'll note the customer is clearly noted as Southern Community Bank and Trust and that as late as 2005 there was no overdue waterbill.

You'll also note descrapancies in the amount due ranging from $10,115.21 to $67,260.43 whereas just last week media reports were $59,000 and $60,000 respectivly. I can explain none of that except to say governments tend to be quite creative at turning little bills into very large bills as long as the government isn't the one paying.

Now I give you Exhibit B: Capital Bank completes acquisition of Southern Community Bank

That's right, on October 2, 2012, Southern Community Bank and Trust was aquired by by Florida based Capital Bank Financial Corp.  If you do a web search for Southern Community Bank and Trust and click on the links they will take you to Capital Bank.

Now obviously Southern Community Bank and Trust never paid the water bill at Heritage House but simply forwarded it to someone at the Heritage House Homeowners Association who then paid the bill. But hey, water bills only come 4 times a year and if it doesn't come it's easy to forget.

And Now I give you Exhibit C: Capital Bank tallies savings from Southern Community layoffs

How many were laid off? Capital Bank isn't saying but I'm betting that at least one of those who got laid off was the person who handled the Heritage House water bill 4 times each year. And so it was, in the paperwork shuffle of giant corporations 400 residents and the owners of 177 deeded properties got set up for a land grab by overzealous city officials looking to make a name for themselves. You see, because of this assessment the City can now sell this multi-milliondollar building for $67,000 and change.

Are you now beginning to see how it works in Greensboro?

This indicates a huge problem for the City of Greensboro. It would appear the City made no efforts to straighten out the billing issues before they turned off the water. After all, they weren't even billing the correct customer. Sure, if your neighbor's water bill arrives in your mail box you'll walk next door and hand it to them but as a rule you're not going to pay it for them. Are you? And of note, this is the e-mail I got with my public information request #3756:

"The City may release billing information when the circumstances described in North Carolina General Statute 132-1.1(c) are present.  Typically, this is in response to a Court Order in pending litigation. We also post the water bill when the debt is assessed against the property. Attached is the assessment. 

 Your other requests for billing information regarding the  Heritage House and Meridian Event Center do not fall within these defined circumstances that permit release of records.  We therefore do not wish to release other records.

 City policy must be applied as consistently as possible.  Therefore, the City declines to release the other billing information in this circumstance."

The City is continuing to hide the truth. Would the water bill prove me right or wrong? What is so secret about a water bill that it can't be made public? The City has already released the assessments and the total, why not the billing history? Who are they protecting? Why are they hiding behind "consistently" instead of giving us truth?

They bring this on themselves.

Oh, an this: over the weekend in e-mail discussions with Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, she indicated the idea to turn Heritage House into a retirement home is in-fact her own idea and apparently has not been approved by Council. She simply sees that as the best future use for the property. What will actually be done with the property is still anyone's guess.