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Problems with PAMS

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Letter to the Editor
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Regarding the letter “PAMS late fees outrageous” (Dec. 22) about Pennsylvania Municipal Services' billing and collection: Not only are PAMS' policies questionable when you owe them money, they are no better when something is their fault.

I am a new resident in Oakmont. My first property tax bill from PAMS was sent late and did not include the Pennsylvania Homestead Exclusion. Despite multiple attempts to obtain a corrected bill, I finally had to go to the office and pay the bill without the reduction. I was promised the mistake would be it fixed. My second bill, however, was also incorrect. I finally had to contact Allegheny County directly to prove that I had filed for the exclusion on time. Again, I paid in the office and obtained a signed receipt.

But on the day after Thanksgiving, I received a delinquent tax notice. To make matters worse, the delinquency apparently was reported to the credit bureaus.

The reality is PAMS actually owes me a refund for the exclusion that was omitted from my bill. But now I've received a notice that PAMS will not be paying me a refund. And, of course, there was no mention of them paying interest on the balance they owed.

Instead, the agency said I'd have to get my refund directly from the Riverview School District. PAMS failed to provide me with the procedure for doing this.

This is not just an isolated occurrence. Rather, it is indicative of a pattern of carelessness, if not negligence.

I am most concerned because Oakmont has just awarded PAMS the contract to collect water bills because PAMS' bid was significantly lower than competing bids. I'm sure the agency offered this low bid in anticipation of levying outrageous late fees — apparently even on amounts that are not owed.

Elaine Luther


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