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Property owner got free sewer service for years

February 02, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown sewer customer received free sewer service for nearly 30 years, Hagerstown officials said this week.

The owner of a house on Catawba Place built in the mid-1960s applied for and received a sewer permit in 1972, David Shindle, manager of the city's water pollution control department, said Thursday. The property is in the Colonial Park development near Dual Highway.

For an unknown reason, a billing account was not established for the home and the property owners were never billed, Shindle said.

"The system of establishing a new account failed, and the system at that time may have included a contractor, plumber, inspector and city personnel," Shindle said.

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The city does not have an estimate on how much money was lost by the service going unbilled.

The unbilled service was discovered in December when the property changed hands, Shindle said.

Ownership of the home has changed a few times since the permit was received, he said.

Maryland law sets a three-year statute of limitations on charging people who were not billed, city Finance Director Alfred Martin said.

The property owner, whose name was not released, had owned the property since 1994, Shindle said. The property owner has paid the $1,219 for the three years of service for which he can be billed, Shindle said.

The city investigated whether other homes on the same street were receiving free sewer service but concluded none was, Assistant Finance Director Ray Foltz said.

The city has more than 16,000 sewer customers.

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