Sewer Upgrade Results in Hefty Bills for Unsuspecting Customers

Homeowners say they were blindsided after receiving bills, some totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, for 2013 sewer project.

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Residents of Kittery, Maine, a town of about 9,500 residents, approved a bond to update part of their sewer system in 2013. Now, with individual bills ranging between $13,000 and $300,000, homeowners are demanding answers.

Ratepayers say they learned in January how much responsibility they incurred when they voted to fund the project. In total, 153 households are splitting 50 percent of the $7.65 million bond depending on how much land they own, reports WCSH-TV.

“Nobody divided 153 into the number to see what it meant,” says Gary Beers, chair of the town council.

The superintendent of the town’s sewer departments says residents had opportunities to attend meetings and provide input, but they never did.

“This was not disclosed on the ballot nor was it disclosed prior to the ballot,” says Tricia Robillard, a homeowner who received a $20,000 sewer bill. “Any conversation or anything that transpired after that bond vote passed in my opinion is bogus. You can’t go forward with a bond leveraging this town to the tune of $7.6 million and not know how that’s being paid back.”

Ken Thumith attended a workshop earlier this month on behalf of a client, who he says is expected to pay $275,000 over the next 10 years for the project. Thumith tells reporters the 88-year-old homeowner won’t even be hooked up to the new sewer line, but it runs through her property.

According to the report, the town council has asked the interim town manager to put together a plan to incorporate other funding, including reserve funds and any available state funding. Beers says the town will also be applying for grants to help cover the cost.

Source: WCSH-TV


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