Paterson overbilled laundry firm $500,000 in sewer fees, says claim | Paterson Times

Paterson overbilled laundry firm $500,000 in sewer fees, says claim


Mayor Andre Sayegh’s controversial sewer reforms lead to a laundry company being overbilled $500,000 in sewer fees, according to a claim notice filed with the city.

Brite Services, operators of Star Laundry, claims the city issued the excessive bills based on incorrect water usage invoices.

Star Laundry operates out of three buildings at 436 East 16th Street. Its complaint states the Sayegh administration breached an “implied contract” engaged in “fraud and conversion.”

Brite Services filed the claim notice, dated October 27, 2020, to seek a resolution to the excessive sewer bills.

The claim notice indicates Brite Services paid the excessive amount.

“My client would prefer to resolve this matter amicably, however, he is prepared to file suit in New Jersey Superior Court, if necessary,” wrote Paul Weiner of the Coughlin Duffy law firm, attorney for Brite Services, in the claim.

Sayegh has been criticized for his botched sewer reforms that resulted in property owners getting hit with large bills.

As recently as Monday, councilman Alex Mendez described the mayor’s sewer reforms as robbery. He said the Sayegh administration was “robbing” property owners through the reforms.

“We were definitely robbed. We are owed money,” said Yaakoub Hijazi, owner of Star Laundry.

Hijazi said the amount is much higher than the figure mentioned in the October claim notice. He estimated the excessive billing in the neighborhood of $900,000 to $1.5 million.

His firm has been operating in Paterson for 14 years. He has 400 employees, mostly Paterson residents.

Hijazi said the issue remains unresolved. He tried to resolve the issue with the city, including by trying to meet with the mayor.

“But as soon as we get there, he would cancel the meeting and send in his crew that basically tells you everything you don’t want to hear,” said Hijazi. “To get a response from the city of Paterson takes forever.”

Hijazi has been operating at 25 percent capacity because of the pandemic. The excessive billing by Paterson has not helped the situation.

Three months ago, the city struck a settlement with St. Joseph’s University Medical Center to resolve a claim that it overbilled the hospital by $1.8 million.

Sayegh hasn’t fully rectified the problems from the sewer reforms. He could not immediately be reached for comments on Wednesday morning.

Acting finance director Javier Silva earlier in the month said there was a surplus in the sewer utility. The city’s governing body passed the sewer reform measures to collect just enough in revenues to make the sewer system self-liquidating rather than to build surpluses for the city.

Sayegh changed the sewer billings and linked it to water bills. He also sent out a one-time bill, that some described as a money grab, to raise $3 million to plug a hole in the budget. Members of the City Council have publicly said Sayegh and his then-chief of staff Kathleen Long, now business administrator, misled them during the sewer presentations.

Council members have talked about rescinding the sewer reform measures over the past months, but haven’t taken any concrete actions.

Email: [email protected]

Updated 2:02 p.m.

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  • No Ethics

    This article states: "Mayor Andre Sayegh’s controversial sewer reforms lead to a laundry company being overbilled $500,000 in sewer fees…"

    Let's not forget about Mayor Andre Sayegh’s controversial:

    * One Paterson "non-profit"
    * Judicial appointments
    * Questionable social media practices
    * Questionable cabinet appointments
    * More to come (based on what we have seen thus far)


      Or how Mayor McCheese is Florio's bitch.

      • No Ethics

        Mr. Santos,

        Thank you for that. Sometimes it difficult to remember all of Say-No's questionable activity.

  • Plumber

    Wow I'm surprised (sarcasm)

  • Resident41

    So he is the one behind all of this. He is the one responsible for why by sewage bill has not double but triple just recently. I’ll remember this for the next elections.


      You can remember it and write it down even. Doesn't matter. If I were you I'd sell your house for whatever you can get and move out of that shithole. The voters are too dumb to vote for real change. Move to a well run Republican town like I did. No shootings, junkies or homeless beggars here.

  • John

    Just donate to him. Am sure all will be taken care of.


      You go that right lol. I'm surprised he would screw over a fellow Muslim though, those people usually stick together. That being said the owner of this place is a real shady character, I know somebody who worked there for years and trust me he doesn't want to draw to much attention to himself or he might end up in federal prison. Also, you can bet that Mayor McCheese's master Florio isn't over paying.

  • Paterson Resident

    He will not get another term in office.

  • MarquinhoGaucho

    Just close shop and leave Paterson…Saddle Brook, Passaic, Clifton all have nice industrial parks

    • No Ethics

      A typical Goucho the Clown remark. When the going gets tough, just leave? You said you live on work in Paterson, yet you are suggesting that a business just get up and leave? I never heard a citizen actually WANTING a business to leave. You probably do not know this, but it is the LACK OF BUSINESSES that reflect directly on the over evaluated property taxes in town.

      • MarquinhoGaucho

        Really? Because that last 2 major tax hikes on my property bill have been from the charter schools leaching us and crooked corrupt politicians who are on the take from the charter lobby. Once the paperwork is finalized I am leaving Paterson so I wont give a F anymore. It's amazing how once you cross Crooks Ave its another world

        • No Ethics

          Yes, really. People don't "really" suggest that a business, such as Star Laundry, simply skip town. They should be able to win this. Maybe the Governor will finally realize that Andre also is a clown….I mean….Mayor McCheese.