By Charles Sercombe
City Councilmember Saad Almasmari isn’t the only councilmember with a record of receiving water shutoff warnings.
After last week’s story on Almasmari’s history of not paying water bills and property taxes, it came to light that Councilmember Andrea Karpinski also has received shutoff warnings.
In the last year and a half she received several shut off warnings. The amounts owed for each late payment ranged from about $100 to $200.
“I admit it’s the last bill I pay,” said Karpinski. “I don’t have anything to hide.”
Almasmari’s water bill delinquency arose when he brought up the issue at the Feb. 28 council meeting. He apparently was responding to a Facebook posting by Mayor Karen Majewski who noted that a councilmember, who she did not name, was behind in water bills.
The Review, prompted by Almasmari’s admission, submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for the two houses he owns, 2261 Faber and 2267 Faber, as well as his commercial business at 9723 Conant.
The Review also looked at his property tax records for those properties through the Wayne County Treasury Office’s online data base.
What was discovered is that Almasmari has been habitually late in paying his water bills for the two houses he owns on Faber, and in January had his water service shut off at where he lives, 2261 Faber, for about one month.
At both properties he consistently ran up bills totaling several hundred dollars, and in some instances over $1,000.
As for property taxes, until last week his two houses on Faber were subject to foreclosure for nonpayment. After The Review talked to Almasmari about the foreclosure threat last week, he made partial payments for both residences to avoid losing his properties in a county tax sale.
He still owes over $1,000 to the county for non-payment of property taxes.
Curiously, Almasmari has not applied for a Homestead exemption for where he says he lives at 2261 Faber. He did, however, apply for a Homestead exemption at 2267 Faber but was turned down by the state Treasury Department because the residence was rental dwelling.
A Homestead exemption is given to homeowners who live in their residence.
Not only that, the state rolled back a previous Homestead exemption at 2267 Faber dating back to 2013. Almasmari must reimburse a little over $800 to the state that he received in tax breaks.
At his commercial building on Conant, where he runs his ice cream distribution business, he is also behind on property taxes for one year.
That building has another complication. The water service appears to be hooked up to a service line located at a neighboring building.
City Manager Katrina Powell said her administration is looking into the matter, and it may be necessary for Almasmari to install a separate meter and service line for his building.
That arrangement is not unheard of in the city, where apparently sometime in the past building owners sub-divided their buildings but did not install separate meters.
Mayor Karen Majewski received political blowback when it was discovered that her commercial building on Jos. Campau had a similar arrangement with a neighboring building.
Majewski bought the building a few years ago with that water service arrangement already in place. Although the city administration never said there was wrongdoing on her part, Majewski voluntarily installed a separate water service line and meter.
One of Majewski’s critics of her original water service arrangement was Almasmari.