Roughly two dozen homes on the border of Glen Head and Glen Cove will no longer be on the Jericho Water District’s tax roll following a request by the district to the Town of Oyster Bay. The properties get their water from the city of Glen Cove and have done so since they were built in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, but they technically fell under Jericho’s jurisdiction.
The properties, which line Viola Drive, Sandra Court, East Drive, Sands Road, Linda Court and Libby Drive, have been inadvertently paying taxes to Jericho for water they were receiving from Glen Cove. But they were not “double-billed” as reported by another publication.
Michael Ingham, the attorney for Jericho Water District, said that when the houses were first built the developer found it was more convenient to link up with Glen Cove’s water system. He explained that the Water District granted the 21 properties an outside contract, meaning that although they were located in the district, they would not be billed by it.
“(Outside contracts) occur more frequently in Jericho than any other district because we operate a bigger water district than any other in New York,” Ingham explained. “There are areas along the border where an accompanying or adjacent water district would find it easier to serve those houses, and we say fine, because it’s going to be cheaper for the homeowner to buy the house.”
However, the water district did not give up its right to tax the properties, which it has continued to do until the district requested they be removed from the tax rolls earlier this year. Ingham said the property owners were charged roughly $120 per year by the district which, while not a wallet-crushing number, still cost between $5,000 and $10,000 over the last seven decades.
Ingham said that the district looked into ending the billing when they received a letter from one of the residents, who they did not name. He said that after doing some due diligence the district found 20 other properties who also received their water from Glen Cove.
“We determined that for these 21 eligible homes it would be equitable to suspend them from the tax roll,” Ingham said, “since we have no present intention of extending our mains to the area.”
The water district will not be reimbursing any homeowners for the taxes they paid over the years, because Ingham claims the district was within its rights to do so. While no residents contacted by the Herald wished to discuss the matter, several Glen Head residents did weigh in.
George Pombar, Glen Head’s representative to the Water Authority of North Shore, said that after initially reading the story in another publication he thought it was clear that the residents deserved compensation. However, after talking with some of the affected residents and learning the full story, he believes that Jericho did the right thing.
“The lady I spoke to said she had talked to her neighbors, and they didn’t seem in any urgency to pursue it,” Pombar said. “It’s a pretty open and shut case.”
Agatha Nadel, who has been a leader in the fight for fair water prices in the past, lives across the street from the houses that get water from Jericho. Although she buys her water from Liberty Utilities, she said the case did upset her, but not for the reasons someone would think.
She asserted that in the request Jericho reserved the right to reinstall the residents to the tax roll if they extended their main to the area, which the Town of Oyster Bay approved. Nadel contrasted this with the district’s and the town’s response when residents attempted to get Jericho Water to extend their mains so Glen Head residents could link up with them rather than New York American Water, which at the time was accused of overbilling residents.
“Myself and others said early on in our fight that correcting this injustice should not be difficult,” Nadel said. “The answer that we got was that it would be too difficult and lengthy a process."