Arnold billing frustration boils over
Arnold residents and landlords jammed council chambers on Tuesday to complain about an array of problems associated with the city's new billing system for sewage and garbage fees.
Many of the complaints dealt with the overbilling of about 1,600 residences for two months' worth of minimum sewage and garbage fees, which would total an overage of $112.
Richard Lear, president of Pennsylvania Municipal Services Co., the Oakmont-based company hired in January to oversee the city's billing, apologized for the problems and said residents who overpaid would be credited on their next quarterly bill, which should be sent out in early December.
Lear said the problems originated with changing the way fees were billed midway through the year. The city had been billing residents monthly, but that process was complicated by the fact that the water usage was calculated on a quarterly basis. In July, Arnold changed to quarterly billing.
“Once we get into a quarterly routine, it will get better,” Lear said. “I'm not perfect and neither is our company. But you're going to get my best efforts.”
Many residents were not appeased.
Resident Guy Tocco said he still hasn't received confirmation of credit for a $5 overpayment from several months ago. “How am I going to trust you with a credit of $112?”
Others said they'd prefer a refund now rather than waiting for the company to credit their bills several months later. Mayor Larry Milito said city officials would discuss that and several other issues with PAMS to work out the best system.
Residents also said they received conflicting reports on whether they should pay the overage or would risk late fees for not paying the bill in full. Lear said no fees would be charged on bills from the most recent quarter; anyone who has not yet paid the bill should subtract the overage and pay the difference.
Several residents complained about rude service from PAMS employees, for which Lear also apologized.
“This would go a lot smoother if we felt you were listening,” said Cassandra Houser.
Others said they had problems with how the fees were assessed.
Katherine Hoover felt the minimum water usage of 750 cubic feet, or about 5,600 gallons, was too low. She said she lives alone and still pays more than the $102 quarterly fee for minimum usage.
Residents pay an additional $6.22 per 100 cubic feet over the minimum, which Scip Alcibiade felt was too much. He and other residents said they felt New Kensington residents paid less money for a higher minimum usage.
“We were assured we wouldn't be paying more,” Dante Moretti said. “With this many people having complaints, something is wrong.”
Arnold Engineer Mark Gera said the rates reflect the actual cost for sewage treatment that Arnold pays to New Kensington. He said Arnold is not making any additional money under the new billing system.
Previously, all residences paid a flat fee of $800 per year for sewage and garbage service combined. Milito said the system was changed to make it more equitable for older and smaller households that don't use as much water.
Milito requested patience.
“In the long run, when this balances out, it will be better,” he said. “The system has to be worked out.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Route 19 accident in Mt. Lebanon injures five people
- HOF finalist Bettis ‘behind everything’ in 2005 Super Bowl run
- Newkirk replaces Jones in Pitt’s starting lineup vs. Notre Dame
- Rooney says Pittsburgh is ‘good place’ for next northern Super Bowl
- Dungy, Greene represent more Steelers ties in hall of fame voting
- UPMC researcher who died of cyanide poisoning committed suicide
- Ambridge fire brought quickly under control
- Ford City family needs $10K for dog that detects seizures
- $800K spent to revamp California University of Pa. president’s home
- LaBar: WWE not backing down from controversy
- Penguins notebook: Bennett a healthy scratch