Democrats: Beware of WPCA billing errors
UPDATED, 7 p.m. : Trumbull Democrats are urging residents who have homes connected to the sewer to check sewer use bills carefully amid reports of what they called “egregious billing errors.”
In a press release Monday afternoon, local Democrats said some residents have been overcharged by hundreds of dollars.
Town officials have responded, saying corrected bills were sent out immediately after the company that handles the billing discovered the error.
“All residents who have sewers should carefully examine sewer use bills for accuracy,” said Town Council minority leader Vicki Tesoro. “Multiple Trumbull residents have reported errors in the Unit Charge section of the bill. The correct standard unit charge should be $33 If you have any questions as to whether your bill is correct, please call the WPCA at 452-5048.”
Officials responded to Democrats’ press release Monday evening. See the statement below:
“Last Thursday afternoon, quarterly sewer-use invoices for the WPCA were printed and mailed to 10,252 town residents by Quality Data Service, a company which provides the billing service for the Town and the WPCA. QDS also provides billing services to 130 of 169 municipalities in the state,” a statement said.
On that same afternoon, QDS notified Tax Collector, Donna Pellitteri, that 125 of the 10,252 invoices contained an error in the unit charge, affecting the total amount of the bill. The error was identified and corrected by QDS, however, all of the invoices had already been delivered to the post office.
Town Tax Collector, Donna Pellitteri, spoke to the issue; “Aquarian Water Company provides QDS with all of the data for the WPCA billing. The QDS system automatically calculates the total invoice by multiplying the number of Consumption Units by the WPCA current Consumption Rate, plus a $33 Unit charge.”
“The error on the 125 invoices was on the Unit charge which should have been $33, for residential accounts. The calculations for the total Usage Charge, are correct.” Pellitteri added, “As soon as the error was identified, QDS immediately notified us that they were issuing new invoices marked “CORRECTED BILL.” The 125 corrected bills were mailed the next day.”
In the release from Democrats, Tesoro called for an audit of the WPCA’s billing system.
“I am calling for an immediate financial audit of the WPCA’s billing system,” she said. “Some Trumbull residents may not recognize this error, and pay too much. We want to protect our hard-working citizens from being overcharged.
“The billing system needs to be fixed to ensure that these errors do not continue to happen,” Tesoro said. “Also, since the WPCA switched to the new billing system, the period for which the sewer use bill covers is no longer on the bill. We think it should be so our residents can reconcile the charges with their Aquarion bill.”
In the release, Democrats took aim at First Selectman Tim Herbst’s administration, saying no “long-term solution” seems close as sewer use bills go up.
“Trumbull sewer users are already paying the highest sewer use rates in the State of Connecticut,” said Tom Kelly, Chairman of the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee. “Overcharging our residents due to a billing error would be unconscionable. Our sewer use bills are already out of control, and any errors would add insult to injury.”
“We have been operating with an expired contract with Bridgeport since mid-2012,” Kelly said. “Our sewer use bills have gone through the roof, and now Trumbull residents pay for outside water usage such as sprinklers, pools, car washing, gardens, power washing, and irrigation systems even though that water never goes into the sewer system. The Herbst administration has had almost 6 years to straighten this out, but we seem far from a long-term solution.”