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182 Baldwin Borough residents delinquent with bills

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

More than 180 Baldwin Borough residents recently were faced with a choice: pay delinquent sewage bills or have their water shut off.

A decision by borough council last month granted Jordan Tax Services the right to begin issuing water shut-off notices for accounts with a balance of $500 or more. The decision came after 182 residents racked up more than $83,000 in debt to the borough, Manager John Barrett said.

“It's really just a matter of collecting debts that are owed to us and enforcing the powers that we have to get there,” Barrett said.

Letters were sent to the 182 account holders on July 19 giving them 10 days to make payment arrangements with Jordan Tax Services, Barrett said. That could come in the form of a payment plan. Yet, residents owing $500 or more on their sewage bills would be required to pay 25 percent of their bills up front, he said.

“We're just looking for a good faith effort that they're going to pay,” Barrett said.

Borough leaders are trying to work with residents who might not have enough money to make the 25 percent down payment, he said.

“Our intention is to be lenient,” Barrett said.

The borough manager said that those who did not respond to the shut-off notices would have a warning placed on their door. He did not know if water has been shut off yet at any Baldwin residences.

Representatives from Jordan Tax Services did not return calls this week seeking comment.

The borough has not turned off water at Baldwin properties in many years, Barrett said. The borough does have an agreement with Pennsylvania American Water Company in place to discontinue services, he said.

“It was probably for a lot of reasons: concern for the residents and the added work that it would take,” Barrett said.

Baldwin officials are hoping to recoup money already paid by the borough for sewage to the Pleasant Hills Authority and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, he said.

“Their water's being treated and we've paid for the usage of that water,” Barrett said.

“Essentially, we've paid their bills. ... It's uncollected debt. It's almost like, ‘Shame on you Baldwin,' if you didn't do this, if you knew that there was $83,000 that was owed to the borough in July and by December it might be up to $100,000. It's coming off the backs of the residents who pay their sewer bills on time.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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