Somerville Speakup Line:Somerville Water and Sewer Bills

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,

I would ask that on behalf of all home and business owners, there be a full investigation on the water and sewer bills and accounting of money received and paid out to repairs of the sewer, water lines and salaries of city workers and all contractors.

First issue— why are home and business owners paying $60.00 per quarter for meter readings when city workers can read water meters from the comforts of their own comfy chair at their city office? Where does this money go when received, along with the arbitrary increased bills for water and sewer we get every year?

If we were to compare what other towns pay outside this city and region, I would think they pay much less and residents of this city would be justifiably outraged.

One family member who lives in NH pays $15.00 a month for water and sewer. Maybe some worthy statistician could provide numbers for the entire states of New England towns so we can see how much more we pay compared to other taxpayers. I’m sure it would be a real eye opening experience and one that would prove there is something very suspicious going on.

Second issue— I write to alert all home and business owners about a questionable practice going on with paying your bills with a credit or bank ATM card—

Recently, a friend discovered that he was charged a 3% fee for using his credit card to pay the water and sewer bill. For every $1,000.00, an additional $30.00, will be applied to your final bill, but you won’t know about it until it’s been processed and the 3% fee will show up on your statement as a separate line item and charge.

When notified, the city employee claims the charge was from the credit card company. But when the credit card company was notified, their employee said it was a charge applied by the city of Somerville. So who’s responsible for applying the fee? We as consumers have a right to know. Maybe channel 5 should be notified so they can explain it. They seem to be running a few other stories along with the Boston Globe, so let’s ask them.

The problem is the city did not disclose this additional “service fee”, prior to my friend paying the bill and only found out when he looked at his statement. If he paid by check there would be no fee but it would have been better to disclose that fact prior to extracting additional funds without his knowledge and consent.

Even worse, the charge was entered as a separate line item and was never disclosed on the statement from the city until he complained. Then they sent him a receipt, that was created separately from the original water bill we receive by mail or view online,  yet the service charge was not listed.

There seems to be a pattern of issues regarding his water bill and it had doubled one month with no explanation.  He was told by the treasury department employee,  “by law, the city could only grant a $15.00 credit on accrued interest”.

Earlier, he inquired to his plumber about these episodes he encountered with the city. His plumber admitted developers were hooking up too many additional sewer lines and the city sewer was seriously over capacity. He encouraged my friend to secure all his open drains in his basement in case there are more flash flooding storms which have damaged properties and forced many homeowners to complain to their aldermen.

His plumber also said there was no way the bill could have doubled unless there was a broken pipe or someone had tapped into their water line which sounds unbelievable, but who knows with this city.

It seems they will just charge for anything and make up any story to the unsuspecting home and business owners.

So please do what you can to expose this problem so other residents don’t have to accept this continual shake down by the city officials who think we have an endless supply of money in our bank accounts.

The developers should be paying to have our new water and sewer system built. Our sewer and water system is over 200 years old and has been failing for years. You don’t add more sewer and water lines to a broken system. You demand money from those who have made it from our real estate — the multi-millionaires who make donations to our politicians.

That’s who should be paying for it, not the hardworking locals of our community who have already paid enough!

Martha Reagan

3 thoughts on “Somerville Speakup Line:Somerville Water and Sewer Bills”

  1. The 60 fee is just one more way the city is increasing costs to property owners. Somerville used to have low taxes and be an attractive place to buy a home because the low taxes made it more affordable. The city needs more affordable housing but the city I heard last night from a housing advocate is spending over a million dollars more a year than it was 10 years ago. Taxes are much higher. CPA tax. Water bill fees. Parking permit fees – where is all that money going. Every car in the city has paid a permitting fee where parking used to be free. That’s a lot of revenue. I got a $900 dollar water bill, the highest it’s ever been. Now they’re pushing a transfer tax. Where will it ever end? When will the city start to reign in expenses? And how about using some of that CPA money to reburbish the veterans ‘Honor Roll’ at the high school?

  2. On the front page of the payment site it lists the fees for paying online. Also before you submit payment it lists the fee that you will be charged. The fee is charged by the online payment processor, not the Town.

  3. if the city can read the meters from their office – why can’t the city bill each residential unit for their personal consumption? When the end user pays for their personal consumption usage goes down. We could be reducing consumption of water and sewer and electric to pump the water and sewage yet the “environmentalists” seem to miss it..

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