Marc Alvarez moved back into his Sandy-ravaged home two years ago. He thought that ended his involvement with the city's embattled hurricane-recovery program, Build It Back.
Then, he got a letter from the contractor who rebuilt his New Dorp Beach home telling him he's responsible for more than $10,000 in utility charges incurred while he wasn't even living there.
Alvarez said he's not paying.
"They're going to have to take me to court. So good luck with that," he said. "You want to take me to court? So how much is court going to cost them? I'm not paying. Bottom line."
The contractor, Navesink Prestige, confirmed it sent the letter to Alvarez, and to at least 15 other homeowners on Staten Island whose homes it repaired.
The company has been locked in a years-long fight with the city over payment for its work on more than 330 damaged houses.
Last year, when we first spoke with Navesink, the company said it was owed $19 million by the city. Today, Navesink said most of the bills remain unpaid, so it is going after some of the homeowners whose houses were repaired.
Brian Lawrie from Navesink Prestige spoke to NY1.
"We have no other option," he said. "So the intention is to get paid for the work that we did."
Navesink said the bills are for work completed as far back as four years ago. But it said the city, through an engineering auditing office, keeps requesting more and more documentation to prove that the homes are really finished.
In pressuring homeowners, Navesink is citing contract language affirming that the homeowners and the city agreed to share responsibility for all utility costs during the rebuilding work. Recouping those costs would not make Navesink whole, but it is something, and perhaps, it would force the city to pay its bills.
"I find ironic that at the time we handed over the keys, they took ownership of the home. They made it perfectly clear that once they had keys, we have no rights to the home," Alvarez said. "It's underhanded on the city's part, using language like that to circumvent some of the costs to hand off to the owners."
Alvarez said Build It Back officials told him not to pay the bill, and that they would look into the problem. Those officials did not respond to our questions.
In the meantime, Navesink said it will continue to take whatever measures necessary to be paid.