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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Under water

Isn't this just the perfect little metaphor for what government has become?

Staten Island residents whose homes were damaged by superstorm Sandy say the city is charging them hundreds of dollars for water they haven't used since the storm.

Some of the bills in the hard-hit New York City borough have been as high as $500, which Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) calls ridiculous.

"That's $500 these people could use to replace a washer or dryer or refrigerator swept out to sea during Sandy," Grimm said at a press conference Saturday.

The Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter to residents saying they were subject to a minimum charge of $1.19 a day even if they weren't using water in their homes.

Stephanie Argento received a bill for her South Beach house, where she hasn't even been living.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing, $320 for water," she said. "That's money I could put to my rent."

Of course we pay for government services we don't use all the time, everything from firefighters' pay if our house never burns and streetworkers to fix potholes in the parts of town we never visit. But the idea is that we pay for those things so they're always be there for all of us, not because we have an immediate individual need for the service. What we have here, however, is a government out of control, serving its own needs instead of those of the people it is supposed to serve.