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City officials in Punta Gorda, Fla., want to know the answer to a $64,000 question.
Who’s paying the gigantic three-month-old water bill pumped up by residents at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer park?
According to a report in the Fort Myers News-Press, the bill is up to $64,000-plus, and FEMA hasn’t paid it yet. City officials contend FEMA is responsible.
The city utilities director resorted to hand-delivering a letter protesting the delinquent bill for the millions of gallons of water to representatives of Rep. Mark Foley. FEMA contends that the city must squeeze the money out of park residents.
Residents of the 551 trailers in the FEMA park, all made homeless by last summer’s Hurricane Charley that hit Southwest Florida, aren’t eager to take on a cost of living they thought was covered when they moved in to the temporary park.
The problem is that the park has an aggregate meter, not individual meters, Foley said, and there is no way to determine exactly how much water each trailer used since the park opened in November.
“FEMA should accept the bill now and pay it and let’s move forward from here,” Foley said.
The federal agency claims its mission is to help people get back on their feet after a disaster, not pay utility bills. Foley said his office is trying to work with FEMA on how FEMA can legitimately pay the water bill.
“Let’s err on the side of government, not the residents,” Foley said. “They’ve suffered enough.”