Bethel selectmen to respond to sewer billing complaints

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BETHEL — Selectmen on Monday decided to send a letter to a group of unhappy sewer customers, asking to address their concerns about a recent updating of sewer charges.

The charges were applied to dwelling units that were previously not billed by the town, despite being required under town ordinance, according to town officials.

While newer construction has, according to the town, been billed by individual dwelling unit as the ordinance requires, some older properties, such as apartment buildings, were still being charged as a single unit. The town searched those buildings/units last year and brought their billing structure up to date under the ordinance, the officials said.

Property owner Bob Laux organized a meeting, which also took place Monday evening, for sewer customers who have been affected.

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At the selectmen meeting, Selectman Don Bennett said the town has reviewed its past notification process to customers impacted by the change. He described Laux’s letter as “kind of accusatory,” and said the town would like to address what the customers think might have been done wrong.

“We are bound at this table by the code book … It’s very specific what our duties are as far as funding a sewer district,” Bennett said.

He said the ordinance was approved by voters, and if customers are dissatisfied with it, “perhaps they would like to offer up some change to code.”

Selectman Pat Carter agreed. “We need to address their issues and maybe get through to them what the code book says,” and if there is a problem, make a change, she said. “We’ve tried to be fair.”

In other business Monday, Town Manager Christine Landes said the recently completed Vernon Street road project has incurred an additional $18,000 in costs, because of four work change orders.

Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Warden said a variety of factors led to the changes, which included a layer of fine gravel that had to be added in order to comply with the town standards and riprap that was added to a ditch.

The costs will be covered under grant funds provided for the project, Landes said.

The board also made appointments to town committees. They included:

* Airport Authority: James Daugherty, Mark Beck

* Budget Committee: Ted Davis, John DeVivo, Greg Files, Neil Scanlon

* Recreation Committee: Mike Pelletier, John Eliot, Cindy Bailey, Janet Stephenson, Skip Bennett

* Bethel Water District: Reggie Brown

* Bingham Forest Authority: Ian Drew, Chris Hayward.

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