Florida Governmental Utility Authority (FGUA) / Charging Base Fee for Vacant Property
I have owned the property in question in Lehigh Acres, FL since April 20, 2007. As of October 2011, I have not resided in this home. This address has been vacant since mid-October 2011 and is in the process of foreclosure.
I was extremely disturbed to receive a bill for over $400 for service from FGUA. So I faxed their company on 3/20/12 requesting termination of my account and they DENIED my request. A “Base Fee” from what I am being told by their employees, is required by me until the home is no longer in my name. I was never made aware of a “water utility base fee” contract. Are they upfront and honest with their clients about this? Do they honestly think people will pay this?? They clearly know there has not been any use of water and sewage at this address for nearly 5 months. You and I also know that it can take a couple YEARS to finally have a home foreclosed on. Yet they want me to pay a fee to a company that I’m not receiving any service from. I have absolutely no problem paying for the services I have used but I will NOT pay $52 a month for however long it takes for the foreclosure to finalize. I have NEVER agreed to such a ridiculous request when I first got water hookup.
I’m not one that is very fond of Lee County Electric Coop but even they would not charge me a “Base Fee” when I’m not using their services. Nor the cable company or phone company. They are a utility company. They did not lend me money to have this service. It’s not like a lien on a vehicle.
I received the following email back from them 2 days later on 3/22/12:
Thank you for contacting the FGUA. I have reviewed your account # xxxxxxxxxx, at [address was here]. As of the date of this email you are listed as property owner, per the Lee County Property Appraiser.
Base rate charges are assessed to every property and as the property owner you remain responsible. Your request to close your account will not eliminate your base rate charge or readiness to serve fee.
The practice of utilities billing a base rate is used throughout the industry. Locally, City of Cape Coral Utilities, Lee County Utilities and Bonita Springs Utilities use this practice. It is also outlined as a general practice by the Florida Public Service Commission and the American Water Works Association. The base charge covers the cost of services that must be provided regardless of usage and offsets the fixed costs of operating the system.
If you should have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me at the local office [protected] Ext. 25.
Government Services Group, Inc.
280 Wekiva Springs Road
Longwood, FL 32779
[protected] local office
My response to that:
With all due respect Ms. Lizotte,
You are not providing a service nor a good in this matter. So you are telling me that you see it completely appropriate to charge me a fee every month for let’s say 2 years (foreclosures seem to take a while). That would mean I am just giving your company $1500 and you are not giving me anything in return. Please explain the logic in this. When I give a company money, I am receiving a service of some sort or I am receiving goods in hand. So I am going to ask you again, what will I get in return in handing over $52 a month to your company as I am NOT using your services?
I am NOT paying your employees since they are not working for me. I am NOT your customer anymore.
I’m sure this is your companies way to keep everyone employed and eliminate layoffs. I’ve been doing my research online. I will advise you.. I am NOT here to help benefit all your other customers and help maintain your water system infrastructure. Sorry… not from my pocket you won’t. You’ll just have to deal with layoffs like the rest of society. I am not paying this absolutely stupid illogical unconstitutional fee. I will be reporting you to the BBB and Attorney General’s office every single month I get a bill from you. So you need to correct this.
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