MetroPlex now faces water, tax disputes

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By Robert Guttersohn


Metroplex Water Service Letter

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Letter from Jerry Lambert, City of Girard Safety Service Director, regarding the metering of water services at the Metro Plex Hotel.

Metroplex Water Service Letter Response

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Response letter from the Metro Plex Hotel General Manager to Jerry Lambert, City of Girard Safety Service Director, regarding the metering of water services at the Metro Plex.

The MetroPlex, once praised as an all-in-one motel, convention center and banquet hall, has fallen behind on taxes and is accused of not paying Girard for the water it uses.

In response, MetroPlex owners said the facility has lost money because of waterline breaks and other problems.

According to a letter from the city to MetroPlex owner Aswin Ganapathy Hospitality Inc., the facility owes more than $13,000 in water bills. Included in that total is a claim that the complex took at least two months’ worth of water — totaling more than $2,600 — from Girard by circumventing the water meter.

“This can only be accomplished by a person or persons who knowingly opened and closed two separate valves,” the March 8 letter said. “In order to correct this situation, our service man was able to correct the valves, and a lock will be installed to make sure this situation doesn’t occur again.”

The MetroPlex’s acting manager, who declined to comment or provide her name to The Vindicator, did provide the company’s official response to the city’s allegations.

In its letter to Girard, company officials denied knowing where the bypass valve is located and claimed they have not seen copies of the blueprints or floor plans to the complex.

“If it was one valve and only one valve, it could be an accident — not two,” Jerry Lambert, the city’s service director, said.

In its March 8 letter, the city billed MetroPlex $2,618 for the two months and told the complex to pay a total of $13,704 for all past-due water bills. As of Monday, the complex paid Girard $8,000, and its representatives are expected to meet with city officials today to discuss the remaining debt, said Lambert.

The letter from MetroPlex management to the city also blames Girard for loss of business due to waterline breaks and water-pressure issues over the last six months.

During the last waterline break along Churchill Road on Feb. 23, the MetroPlex lost more than $10,000 after being forced to refund a client’s charges for a three-day event due to lack of water, the owners said.

The acting manager at the MetroPlex said when the water was turned on, sediment entered the complex’s water lines, clogging toilets and sinks.

“All that fell loose from the pipe came into the building,” said Tom Rogan, who is paid hourly by the hotel to deal with plumbing issues but acknowledged he is not a plumber.

He said he knew nothing of the valve bypass issue.

But late water bills are only part of the problem for the MetroPlex. It also has fallen behind on taxes to both Trumbull County and Liberty Township.

Currently, the hotel is behind six months on the motel tax it owes Liberty, about $850, and $41,000 in county taxes, according to township and county records.

John Fusco, township fiscal officer, said he has sent tax notices to the business three times since 2009.

He said the motel taxes the township has collected — a 3 percent tax per bed occupied that goes directly to the township’s general fund — from MetroPlex have dwindled over the last five years.

“That was our money maker,” Fusco said of the complex. “Now, we’re lucky if we get $200 [a month].”

In July 2007 Liberty collected $6,649 in bed taxes from the MetroPlex but collected only $140 in July 2011.

Although MetroPlex management declined discussing business, township Administrator Pat Ungaro, who has worked closely with MetroPlex owners as it tries to gain a franchise name, said all major hotel chains require improvements. And that, he said, requires investment. “The banks just aren’t lending money, and that’s just what’s holding [owner Dr. Indira Sammy] back,” Ungaro said.

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