COLLECTIONS OF DELINQUENT ACCOUNTS
WATER SHUT OFF
Adopted December 20, 1999
Revised January 16, 2017
These Rules, Regulations, and Procedures are the current procedures employed by the Carroll Township Authority in billing and collecting current and delinquent sewage accounts.
Up until now, the different procedures of Carroll Township Authority have not been codified. The authorization procedures are found scattered in the Carroll Township Authority Minutes and Statutes of Pennsylvania.
Here, it is intended to codify the present Rules, Regulations, and Procedures with the sections of the pertinent Statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania governing the procedures.
CARROLL TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY RULES AND REGULATIONS
1. The Authority shall set the annual billing rate of residential and commercial customers for sanitary sewage collection and treatment immediately following the adoption of the Authority’s budget for the coming fiscal year. This is usually done at the January monthly meeting.
2. However, the rates may not be established until after the January monthly meeting due to some unusual circumstances; e.g., the Carroll Township Authority does not receive the treatment rates for the year from either or both of the Authorities who treat our sewage.
3. The Authority reserves the right to amend the rate at any time during the fiscal year due to unanticipated additional expenses or reduction in income.
4. Monthly Rate. The Authority shall bill its customers monthly at one-twelfth (1/12) of the annual rate.
a. Residential establishments will be charged a flat rate for one (1) EDU regardless of the quantities of sewage generated.
b. Commercial establishments will be charged a rate set for each 1,000 gallons of potable water recorded as delivered by the water company. The minimum rate shall be the residential rate.
5. Overrun Charges. The Carroll Township Authority is subject to overrun/penalty charges imposed by the Municipal Authority of the City of Monongahela for any sewage delivered for treatment that exceeds 700,000 gallons per day. Each Carroll Township customer will be billed his proportionate share of said charges. These charges will be in addition to the regular monthly bill and stated separately on the customer’s bill for the months incurred.
The formula for the calculation of the customer’s share is as follows.
(a) The overrun charge billed by the Municipal Authority of the City of Monongahela to Carroll Township Authority will be divided by the total EDU’s in the township times 1.05% to determine the amount of EDU’s proportionate share of the overrun.
(b) The residential customer will be rated as one EDU.
(c) A commercial establishment will be calculated on its individual EDU rating
(d) A commercial establishments EDU rating shall be calculated by dividing the total gallons of potable water consumed during the previous year divided by 60,000 gallons, which is the established number of yearly gallons per EDU in Pennsylvania.
(e) At the beginning of each year, the EDU rating of each commercial establishment will be calculated and submitted to the Authority Board for approval.
6. Billing Date. The billing date shall be the fifteenth (15) day of the month. If the fifteenth day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Holiday and there has not been any overrun reported, the bills will be mailed on the 13th. If there are overrun charges, the date may be extended because of a delay of the receipt of charges from the Municipal Authority of the City of Monongahela.
7. Due Date. The bills are due twenty (20) days after the mailing date of the billings. Any payments delivered by the U.S. Mail Service four days later; after the due date, will not be considered delinquent. Bills not paid on or before the due date, will be deemed delinquent and subject to a delinquent charge of 0.833% per month on unpaid balance.
8. Returned Checks. A charge of $40.00 will be made to the customer who pays his bill by check and his financial institution fails to honor said check.
9. Notice of Delinquency.
First Late Notice: Within ten (10) days after a customer becomes delinquent in the payment of his bill, the Authority shall mail a late (green) notice to the one responsible for the payment of the bill, including the owner of the property and the tenant/occupant, when applicable. This shall occur simultaneously with the billing notice for the next period; 15th of respective month. Said notice will notify customer that penalties and interest shall begin to accrue, to avoid any additional late fees and penalties, customer must pay the amount due by the due date of the current invoice. The amount due shall include both the current charges and any past due charges; see attach late notice which is herein attached as a part of these rules & regulations.
Final Delinquent Notice: Within ten (10) days after the customer fails to make
At the due date of the second delinquent billing cycle; customer is delinquent sixty (60) days, the Authority shall mail a Final Delinquent Notice (pink) to the one responsible for the payment of the bill, including the owner of the property and the tenant/occupant, when applicable, simultaneously with the next billing period of the respective month (15th)
a. This notice will state to the customer that the Authority will institute, one or any of the other legal collection remedies available to the Authority, including Water-Shut-Off Procedures, if the delinquency is not full satisfied within fourteen (14) days or if the customer has failed to make satisfactory extended payment arrangements in writing agreed to by the Authority.
b. If the customer defaults on the payment arrangements, Water-Shut-Off Procedures proceedings will be filed immediately against him.
10. Waiver of Monthly Bill - The monthly sewage bill for any residential and or commercial property may be waived, upon request at the discretion of the Authority, including but not limited to the following issues:.
a. If the dwelling has been razed, is totally or partially destroyed, is not habitable, and water service has been shutoff;
b. If the residential property is vacant, habitable and the public water is shut off, one – half of the monthly sewer bill may be waived;
c. To obtain a waiver, the property owner must complete an Affidavit as to the facts and condition of the premises and submit it to the Authority Board for approval; REQUEST FOR WAVIER OF SEWER CHARGES FOR UN-OCCUPIED BUILDINGS, a copy of which is here-in included as a part of the rules & regulations.
d. Waivers are not retroactive but take effect in the month approved by the Board of the CTA, in the discretion of the Board.
e. All requests for waivers must be renewed by the property owner with the CTA office every 120 days on the appropriate form.
11. Billing of Rental Properties: Effective April 1, 2016, any new billing accounts created for rental units must be billed and registered in the name of the property owner and or manager. The CTA shall discontinue its prior policy of permitting the property owner to place the CTA sewer billing in the name of the respective tenant. Effective April 1, 2017, all existing rental properties that may have been previously under an annual rental agreement will then be placed in the name of the owner. The names of all tenants and or occupants must be registered as well with the office of the CTA.
12. Payments on Delinquent Balances: When payments are made on any delinquent or past due account; those funds will be first applied to the balance due on the over-run fees. The failure to pay delinquent accounts, even if under an agreement for periodic payments, if not strictly adhered to will result in immediate collection action, including shut-off of water service.
COLLECTION METHODS AND PROCEDURES FOR DELINQUENT SEWER BILLS
Introduction: The Pennsylvania Statutes provide for four separate and different legal remedies available to municipal authorities and other local government unit for the collection of delinquent sewer billings, which include:
Require water utility to shut off water service to premises;
File a claim and lien under the Municipal Claims Act;
File a Scire Facias proceeding with the sheriff’s office; and,
File an Action at Law (regular law suit) against debtor.
The Authority will utilize one or a combination of said remedies, in its sole discretion, on any delinquent account.
Each of the above have advantages for various situations.
WATER SHUT OFF
Introduction: CTA may require a water utility to shut off the water service to a premise of a delinquent sewer customer, who has not paid his bill in a timely manner and upon appropriate notice. All overdue collection and treatment charges, penalties, interest and fees of Water Company shut off turn on and lost revenue must be paid before water service will be restored.
All applicable law regarding shut-off shall be followed, including notice and the rights of the delinquent property owner or occupant as provided by law.
Repayment Agreement in Lieu of Termination. When a customer contacts the Authority regarding a delinquent bill, all attempts should be made to negotiate an extended repayment schedule which is acceptable both to the Authority and to the customer. The factors which shall be considered in any repayment shall include the size of the delinquent billing, ability of customer to make payment, and terms of extended payments. The manager shall discuss the terms of the agreement with the Authority Board Chairman or his designee, before agreeing to the same. A repayment agreement is in the sole discretion of the Authority, and the failure to comply with such an agreement will result in immediately shut-off.
Rental Property: The owner of a property is responsible for all delinquent charges, and service will not be restored to a subject property, regardless of the actual occupant, without brining all charges current.
Fees: Charges of Authority and Water Company that must be paid to the Authority, by the delinquent customer before water is turned on, are as follows:
a. Charge for posting Notice of Intent to shut off $50.00
b. Turn-Off Charge $40.00
c. Turn-On Charge $40.00
d. Lost Revenue Charge = the daily amount that the water
Company would receive if service
was turned off
e. These rates are subject to change at any time.
f. Any other charges initiated by the Authority or the water utility.
These shut off procedures do not apply to the situation where the premises are occupied by a tenant and the landlord pays the sewage bills. The Utilities Service Tenant Act, Act 299 of 1978 68 P.S. 399.51, applies here. It is complex, must be strictly followed, and its use is not recommended in Carroll Township. If there is a delinquency by a landlord, contact the Solicitor.
Bankruptcy by Customer: The filing of Bankruptcy by a delinquent customer removes the jurisdiction to the United States Federal Courts. Immediately contact the Solicitor and be certain all municipal liens are current. A separate new account will be established for said owner based on the date of filing of the bankruptcy. If this “post” bankruptcy account becomes delinquent, payment plans are not acceptable, and the delinquent collection procedure will be followed. If said bankruptcy is denied at a later date, the delinquent collection and water termination policy on that prior balance shall be enforced.
Introduction: The Authority qualifies as a local government entity, under Municipal Claims Act 53 P.S. §7191 et seq, which is eligible to file a municipal claim against properties, where the sewage collection and treatments bills are delinquent. The charge is automatically a lien against the property. The municipality must perfect the lien by filing a municipal claim in the local county Prothonotary’s office. Under that statutes priority of payment, the Authority obtains first lien ahead of all previously filed liens, except state taxes.
Municipal Claims Procedure
1. To perfect a claim for unpaid sewage charges against a customer, a Municipal Claim must be filed in the Prothonotary’s Office of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania, located in the Washington County Courthouse, Washington, Pennsylvania.
2. The form of the Municipal Claim shall be electronically transmitted to the solicitor and shall include the following information:
a. The name and address of the Carroll Township Authority
b. The names and addresses of all the property owners.
(i) Be sure to include both husband and wife’s name
(ii) Names of the heirs; if possible, when property is owned by a deceased person. It cannot be the Estate of John Doe
c. Description of the property must be clear and sufficient so that it can be located, including the Washington County – Carroll Twp. Tax I.D. No.
d. The amount due of unpaid services claimed for the period of the beginning date and the ending date
e. The amount of any other charges for fees and attorney fees.
f. The Claim must be signed by chief executive officer or solicitor.
3. Those claims not filed within the initial three (3) year period, referred to as Lost Liens, may be filed any time thereafter. The claim will not obtain Line Priority Status against the property. It will have priority status over judgments and liens subsequently filed.
4. The Authority may initiate a Judicial Sale (Sheriff’s Sale) by obtaining a Writ of Scire Facias, which instruct the sheriff to have a Judicial Sale
5. Any debtor may file a Petition with the Court stating his defense and request the Court to issue a Rule on Plaintiff to present his claim. The Court will determine the amount of money the debtor must pay into Court as security to release the lien against the property.
6. An interest charge, in the amount of ten percent (10%) per annum from the date of filing, is added to your lien as authorized by Pa. Statute and Resolution of the Board of Carroll Township Authority.
7. Court filing fees and collection expenses will be imposed against the debtor.
8. The Authority is entitled to collect its Attorney’s Fees incurred in the collection of this claim as provided by Act 1 of 1996; 53 P.S. §7106 as may be determined by resolution of the Authority.
WRIT OF SCIRE FACIAS
Introduction: The Municipal Claims Act also provides that an Authority can obtain a Judgment against the customer’s property by a Writ of Scire Facias. This is a prerequisite for the filing of Writ of Execution, which orders the Sheriff to sell the property at Public Sale. This is the next step after filing the Municipal Claim.
COLLECTION BY ACTION OF LAW
Introduction: This method is authorized by 53 P.S. §7251 and is the filing of a regular lawsuit. It is governed by the Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure.
1. Only the property owner can be sued for claims that arise in his period of ownership.
2. The burden of proof is on the Authority.
3. The claim must be for delinquent sewage charges for a period of no more than six (6) years from the date they first became payable.
4. A Judgment under here is a lien against all property of delinquent customer, including bank accounts, automobiles, stock, etc.
5. No attorney fees of the Authority are recoverable in this type of suit.
6. If the delinquent customer is dead, a claim may be file with his estate in the Orphans Court.