Winter Garden lawyer makes it rain
Some East Winter Garden folks will be getting a big surprise when they open their water bills: any past due balances will be paid. The man making those debts evaporate is Prineet Sharma.
The Winter Garden eminent domain attorney made a special gift to the city: $10,000. All of it earmarked to pay down utility bills for people hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“My idea was that if you had some past due bills and you’re coming through Christmas, and January is one of your more challenging months (understanding that people do a lot of things in December to make the holidays work) I thought this would be a nice way to give people some momentum for 2021,” Sharma said in a phone interview.
Sharma credits nouveau stoicism author Ryan Holiday for inspiring the idea. ‘He said something on Twitter about paying off people’s utility bills, and that stuck in my head as something I’d like to do.”
As 2020 wound down, he reached out to Mike Bollhoeffer, city manager for Winter Garden, and asked for his help setting up the utilities account and distributing its funds. Sharma and Bollhoeffer are great friends even though they’re often on opposite sides of the table in land negotiations. (As an eminent domain lawyer, Sharma is the guy who makes sure you get a good deal when the government wants your land for development.)
“I have always had a high degree of respect for how the city tries to improve life for all of its residents. So when I was taking stock at the end of the year and thinking about where I could place a donation, I looked for something that would have a one-to-one impact," said Sharma.
"I knew I could trust Mike to apply it properly. He assured me that 100% of the money would go to past due utility bills. Hopefully we can take some stress off people and let them know there are people out there that care about them and that we can support each other.”
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