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Brentwood debuts new sewage bill system

| Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, 11:27 a.m.

A new process for sewage billing in Brentwood will help curtail problems with customer service and confusion with double billing, leaders said.

Starting with sewage bills issued this month, Brentwood will handle billing for current and delinquent sewage bills. A contract with McMurray-based Jordan Tax Service Inc., which issued current sewage bills since Oct. 2012, was terminated.

“This was just another broken process that we took and streamlined,” Councilwoman Stephanie Fox said.

Brentwood leaders plan to send out the first of the monthly bills on Jan. 15, said Eric Peccon, assistant borough manager.

The borough will use a new software program to track sewage billing accounts, and current bills will be sent by PNC Bank, with payments to be sent to a post office box.

The change was prompted by resident complaints that included inaccurate billing and “poor customer service,” Fox said.

“This was the number one complaint that we had from residents,” she said.

Representatives from Jordan Tax Service could not be reached for comment.

Sewage billing often was confusing for residents, Peccon said.

Jordan Tax Service handled current sewage billing, while Brentwood handled delinquent bills internally, Peccon said. Bills that were two months late were sent to Brentwood for delinquent billing.

That meant that residents who were at least two months delinquent on their sewage bill would get statements from two parties, Peccon said.

The borough would send a certified letter to residents that were at least two months behind on their sewage bills alerting them that their water could be shut off, Peccon said.

Residents at times would get a letter from the borough that they were delinquent on their sewage bills yet would instead pay extra to Jordan for their current bill, Peccon said. By bringing the service in-house, residents will be communicating with Brentwood staff and can visit the borough building if they have questions, Fox said.

Brentwood used only a manual list to issue a certified letter to delinquent property owners, Peccon said.

Officials would prioritize the certified letters they would send to property owners alerting them of the borough's plan to post their residence with a water shut-off notice based on the highest bills, he said.

The borough has about 4,200 sewage accounts. Between 500 to 600 are two months late paying their bills, owing between $35,000 and $40,000 to the borough.

The hope is that the change will bring consistency, Peccon said.

With the new software, the borough will begin posting water shut-off notices once a resident is behind on their bill for three months, Peccon said. Notices now will be added to a bill when a customer is 30, 60 and 90 days late on a payment.

The bills also will note the sewage rates for 2015, which are increasing – something that has nothing to do with the billing change, Peccon said. Alcosan's rates went from $5.05 per 1,000 gallons to $5.61, triggering an increase in Brentwood's rates from $6.06 per 1,000 gallons to $6.73. Alcosan's flat rate went from $3.53 per month to $3.92, with Brentwood raising rates from $3.08 to $3.42.

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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