EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Bill Tupy was looking at his monthly bills and noticed his condominium complex in Northeast El Paso was receiving an extra bill for a designated fire line that potentially never even existed. 

“[Fire inspector] was convinced he would find a fire hydrant on or adjacent to our property; there is none to be found,” Tupy recalled. 

After checking with the El Paso Fire Department he appealed with El Paso Water for reimbursement. Him and other residents of Mountain Walk condominium complex were paying, by his estimates, $80 a month for a designated or private fire line. 

He explained  ever since 2001, the Northeast neighborhood has grown around them and other fire lines were put in place, owned and funded by the city. 

This means that there is no need for the private one the residents of this condominium complex have been paying for. 

“El Paso Water is insisting they will only reimburse us for 4 years of the existing error,” he said. 

The condo  complex was built in 1985, but both fire hydrants around it are approximately 300 feet away from the complex, not on the property.

One hydrant was built in 1988 and one in 2012, but according to Tupy, EP Water told him none of these two hydrants were the private one the residents have been paying for. Both of those were owned by the city. 

“The chief engineer, she said looking at these two hydrants on the map, she said neither of those was the dedicated line or had been the dedicated line at our property,” Tupy explained. 

This matter raises the question: what were the residents even paying for?

Tupy said, as a member of the board of  homeowners association they calculated EP Water owes them around $11,000 for the 20 years of payments. 

However, after he appealed to the EP Water Administrative Committee, he said they offered to reimburse the residents for the past four years of payments, in total of $3,428.84. 

Tupy said he was able to provide the committee with only four years of bank statements showing the payments, but explained that EP Water can access records of payments that date 20 years back. 

He said he was not given a reason as to why they refuse to pay the residents full 20 years worth of payments. 

“And that’s one of the more frustrating things they didn’t give any explanation or reasoning,” he said.  

KTSM reached out to EP Water for an interview and received a statement saying: “It is the responsibility of a property owner to let EPWater know if a service line is no longer needed or in use in order to discontinue charges for the service.”

EP Water said they could not comment on the reasoning why they were willing to refund the residents for only 4 years until the Public Service Board discussion is held on Wednesday.

“If El Paso Water is going to say ‘well we are depending on you to let us know,’ that is not reasonable because most people don’t have that specialty knowledge to advise them,” Tupy explained.

Majority of the residents at the complex are elderly and the reimbursed money, Tupy said, would mean a lot also helping with roof repairs for the complex.

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