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Your Tewksbury Today

Did You Just Receive A Crazy High Sewer Bill? Here's Why

Aug 26, 2014 11:37AM ● By Bill Gilman
Dozens of Tewksbury residents were shocked earlier this month when they received a water and sewer bell several times higher than normal.
More specifically, the sewer portion of the bill appeared to be represent years of usage, rather than months. That's because it did.
According to Town Manager Richard Montuori, a clerical oversight resulted in at least 46 residents who had connected to sewer were never billed for their sewer usage. In some cases, homes had not been billed for sewer in nearly 20 years, costing the town hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. According to Montuori, the addresses are spread all over town.  
The errors were found as crews were doing work on sewer lines and realized that certain homes were connected to the sewer but were not listed on the town records.
According to Montuori, letters were sent out dozens of residents in August 2013, informing them that the problem had been discovered and that town officials were working on a way to reconcile the unbilled usage.
Montuori said several factors had to be taken into consideration before bills were sent out dealing with the oversight. In some instances, the homes had been sold one or more times since the original sewer hookup. In other cases, the home had only connected to the sewer recently.
Addresses were handled on a case-by-case basis, said Montuori. Earlier this month, bills were sent out to residents referencing the oversight. According to Montuori, town officials determined it would be unfair to bill people for decades of sewer usage, so any usage beyond three years in the past was forgiven.
Still, more than a few residents received bills for three years of usage. In the case of one resident, who asked that his name not be used, that amounted to more than $1,500. The resident, who said he had connected to the sewer 18 years ago, said he never noticed he wasn't getting billed for sewer because he assumed the total on the bill marked "water and sewer" was a combined total for both.
The new bills stated that the total amount is due within 30 days.
Montuori said he is aware of the inconvenience these bills may cause people and he invites anyone with questions or problems to call the Town Manager's office at 978-640-4300. He said payment arrangements can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
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