NEW BRUNSWICK - Over of the last five years, Mark Van Burik received quarterly water bills for the four-unit house he owns on Comstock Street and rents out to college students, with each quarter's bill averaging about $525. That was until the last quarter.
In February, Van Burik got a bill for the finally three months 2017, only this time the total was $8,117.07.
Van Burik suspects there was a problem with the meter that the city installed on the house last June.
City officials, however, say they tested the meter, twice, and it works fine.
Van Burik suspects he is just the latest of many property owners who got inflated bills from false readings on meters.
New Brunswick “is trying to make this as if it’s an isolated incident," Van Burik said after speaking to the city council members at their meeting Tuesday.
When he bought the rental property in 2013, he said, a water meter was put on the house. That meter was replaced last June, and the reading for the third quarter of 2017 was similar to previous ones. However, the reading for the last three months of the year was way out of line.
Van Burik said he visits the house weekly and does not believe there is a leak, but he recently contacted a plumber to inspect the building.
New Brunswick City Administrator Thomas Loughlin said the meter on Van Burik’s house was evaluated twice and “it tested 100 percent accurate.”
Councilman Kevin Egan suggested the college student tenants may have used the water without Van Burik’s knowledge.
“Sometimes they have water balloon fights,” Egan said. Van Kurik said that would not account for such a large and sudden increase.
Council Vice President John Anderson asked Loughlin if Van Burik might make a good faith payment of $1,000 until the issue can be resolved, but Loughlin countered that the city is supposed to collect all the money.
“You want us to collect what we bill,” Loughlin told the council. “You’d be upset if we didn’t do that."
Anderson said city officials would meet further with property owner to attempt resolving the issue.
Van Burik said he was not trying to avoid paying the correct water bill. However, after the meeting he said other property owners in the city have told him of receiving widely higher water bills.