Water bills an issue in Oxford

By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY

For 21st Century Media

OXFORD - Water bills have been an issue at the January Borough Council meeting. On Jan. 13, councilman Randy Teel discussed problems that had occurred in the automated meter readings system, so that water meter readings were taken several weeks later in the cycle than usual, putting some water users who normally fall within the 5,000 gallons per quarter basic rate up into the next bracket.

At the Jan. 20 meeting, resident Chauncey Boyd was in with a complaint about the billing system overall, and about the way he was treated when he called the borough water department to find out why he was having a problem with his bill.

Boyd told council that his normal $90 water bill is instead $400 because of a silently running toilet that was not detected until the high bill let him know there was a problem somewhere. Because the water meter is also the measure for sewer bills, Boyd’s sewer bill went from the $200 range to $700. The combined bill of more than $1,100 is one that Boyd told Council he does not intend to pay.

“We’re not getting the service we’re paying for when its being monitored by the water meters,” Boyd said, complaining that water used to wash cars or water lawns never goes into the sewer system, but residents are charged for it anyway. “I don’t appreciate the way the sewer authority is robbing us on a quarterly basis on a service we are not receiving.”

In addition to objections about the way the water and sewer systems are operated, Boyd was also upset about the way his call was handled by the borough employee he declined to name. “It’s the principle of the matter, especially to be mistreated by a borough employee,” he said. “There’s a problem that lies within that’s not the norm and that’s not how we treat people here in Oxford, PA.”

Resident Matt Hillengas was at the council meeting about a different borough service. He wants to know if it would be possible for a borough police officer to be on hand during a June carnival that the Sacred Heart Catholic Church would like to hold.

Council did not turn down the idea, but advised that since the church property is across the borough line in Lower Oxford, the township would need to ask for the service, and there would have to be a written arrangement.

As council moved through the meeting there was discussion of budget items and how bills and payments are tracked. One bill that Council wondered about was the cost related to the 2014 tax levy ordinance that had to be re-advertised and voted on a second time because it contained an error in the wording. Borough manager Betsy Brantner assured Council that when the solicitor makes a mistake like this, it covers the cost, and the borough is not charged the extra fees.

There was also discussion of how the minutes are drafted and if they need to be as extensive as they are now. “The only thing we should have to look at is what did we vote for or against,” council member Sue Lombardi said. “Our decisions and our votes are based on our discussion.”

Currently the meetings are taped, and the tapes are used to create the minutes. After a set of minutes is approved, the tapes are destroyed. The issue was tabled until February for further discussion at that time.