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Village of Croton-on-Hudson Officials Mum on Fake Water Bill Scam

January 4, 2007

Crotonblog has posted two pieces on the fake water bill story that originally appeared in The Journal News called "What Were Croton Officials Thinking When They Faked Residents' Water Bills?" and "Are Croton's Officials for Real—Or Do They Just Play at Being Officials on TV?." On Tuesday evening, January 2nd, the Mayor and trustees marched into the Board meeting with a quite obvious understanding and agreement not to mention the matter of the fake water bills. Whether this was because of Village Manager Richard Herbek's absence, attributed to illness, we'll never know. Nevertheless, this curious affair will not go away. On Thursday, January 4th, The Gazette published a letter from two victims of the Village's scam. A day ealier The Journal News had published a shortened, edited version of this same letter:

To the editor,

Phony water bills; this was not creative, but vindictive. I am ashamed to think our Village of Croton could stoop so low to do something this underhanded, sneaky and obnoxious, not to say illegal. How can our village think it is O.K. to send $1M water bills to anyone this time of year? What a scam.

The letter sent by Mr. Abraham Zambrano did not make any action mandatory. It said, “We would like to extend to you, at no charge, the opportunity to have a remote reader installed." Nowhere in the letter does it say you have to! This is the holidays, when people are thinking of shopping, spending time with friends and family, not about water meters.

I have lived in Croton all of my life and have never been witness to behavior such as this from village officials to our community. Mr, Zambrano intentionally falsified a village document, and this is a violation of the law. Mr. Zambrano's smug remarks on Channel 12 News, saying if people don't pay their bills, we will just add it to their taxes; I am sure there is something illegal in that statement. What about the folks who pay the bill? Are they going to get their funds returned? Somehow I think it will be when the village gets around to it.

Living in the Harmon area, our friends and neighbors have suffered for many, many years from constant water main breaks, icy and muddy streets because of this; dirty water, yellow clothes, and bad tasting water, which resulted in the need to buy bottled water. Needless to say the village took their time about remedying the cause saying "they were working on the problem." If the village was so fired up about installing new meters it should have been done in conjunction with this project. I add, that the meter I had, was only 6 or 7 years old. I have never had an estimated bill, and always sent the card with the meter reading. So again Mr. Zambrano does not know what he is talking about.

Of note, Croton made national television with this stunt. What a shame; the village suffered such embarrassment. Our politicians and village officials need to take a look at what is really important in this village; they talk about communication, but to me it is all one-sided. The politicians and village officials first! Seems to me they forgot who pays their salaries.

— Caryl and Michael DePalma

It is apparent that there is more to this affair than the Village has been willing to reveal. Residents of Croton-on-Hudson deserve to know exactly what happened and what steps are being taken to prevent it from happening again. In the absence of any discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting, once again Crotonblog is compelled to ask Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, “What’s Up, Doc?”



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