Homeowner stuck with JEA availability fee | News

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Homeowner stuck with JEA availability fee
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Walter Suslak is in the middle of a major home renovation, and he's in a fight with JEA over four years of billing for a service he has yet to receive.

"For the last four years, according to JEA records, I've paid $70 a month for water," said Suslak, "and $75 a month for sewer with a listed consumption of zero."

Suslak, who owns several properties, recently discovered he is paying for sewer service, even though the house under renovation is not connected to the JEA sewer system.

"They have verified that the sewer is not hooked up at all," he said.

Why is he paying a sewer charge of $75 month? Suslak was told that it is an availability charge, even if he never uses it.

"That's fraud," he said, "I guess you can euphemistic and call it chicanery, but I got nothing," said Suslak. 

When he examined his commercial JEA bills, he found a line for service available, but on his residential bills, it is not evident.

Suslak went to a hearing and argued the billing is wrong and JEA owes him back charges plus the cost of his port-o-let.

The mediator listened but ruled "the bills as rendered are accurate" -- the order never addressed the issues separately.

"JEA has the money and don't want to give it back; they know they've provided nothing," said Suslak.

"Whether you decide to have a plumber hook your house up to that service is up to you," said JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce.

"Once you request it and pay for the service, it will be in place for you for whenever you want to use it," Boyce said, "There's a monthly service availability charge to all JEA customers."

Is this just with the JEA? According to Boyce, it is industry-wide.  She said the utility is changing its statements to make it plain to all of its customers.

The Public Commission said the JEA is a public utility and it has no jurisdiction.

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