Village rebilling commercial water users — computer glitch undercharged them

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WARWICK-Last year the Village of Warwick increased its commercial water fees. It also implemented new computer software. Because of a data input error by the company that installed the software, the commercial accounts were not charged the increase. As a result, commercial accounts were undercharged, according to Mayor Michael Newhard. Now, the village will be rebilling those commercial accounts. "The village's budget and the cost of water plan operations are dependent on these fees," said Newhard. "The fee increase in fiscal year 2004 was implemented to help offset the increased costs of operation and maintenance of our water plant and wells. The fee increase was in accordance with state law, which prohibits a municipality to use such fees to create profits. State law also requires us to retrieve these incorrectly billed fees." So, commercial users will be getting an unpleasant water bill soon. Not all commercial accounts are heavily impacted, but some are — like Laundromats and restaurants. "All underbid accounts will receive corrected bills," Newhard said. The Village apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused and is undertaking measures to ensure that no similar errors occur in the future." Many commercial businesses were charged $2.55 per 1,000 gallons less than what they should have been charged. Instead, they were charged the resident rateThis was over a nine month period (three billing cycles) so it can be significant to big water users like laundromats, restaurants and the hospital. Meanwhile, n an attempt to create parity among water users both inside and outside of the village, Trustee Roger Metzger has proposed creating a water district for users who live outside of the village and charging them a tax similar to the one charged to village residents. If you live in the Village of Warwick, you receive certain services that residents outside of the village do not — like central water and sewer. Some residences and businesses outside of the village have gotten permission and tapped into the village's water system for various reasons. One village water customer is the school district; another is the fire department out on West Street Extension. Many more residences on the fringe of the village also pay for village water at a higher rate than village residents. Village residents, though, pay a water and sewer tax. This tax is used to offset debt from the water plant. Metzger wants to level the playing field and establish a water district for users outside of the village. "Village water users pay a tax. Outside the village they don't," said Metzger. "They have to pay taxes commensurate with village tax payers." The fee charged for the water goes to operating expenses at the plant.