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Panther Valley man protests water authority billing process

Published January 29. 2010 05:00PM

A Panther Valley man is upset with the Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority because its policy to bill customers who have meters installed, regardless of whether the service is on.

Chad Warman is also upset because, he said, the authority turned off service to the house he rents because he didn't pay his bill on time. He was supposed to have a 30 day time period to pay, but the service was turned off much sooner, he said. In fact, it was turned off in the morning of the day he had arranged with the authority to pay the bill.

Water Authority officials said they would check their records to see when payments were made.

As for the meter problem, Warman said he had his mother's vacant house in Coaldale winterized. When the authority turned off the water at Warman's request, it did not remove the meter because workers did not know how long Warman wanted to water off, said authority Chairman Toby Krajcirik. Warman said his plumber removed the meter.

Only the authority is allowed to remove meters. Customers who do that themselves can face fines of up to $500 a day, said authority solicitor James Nanovic. The authority has yet to assess a fine on Warman.

Because the authority bills customers even if the water if turned off as long as the meters are connected, Warman was billed $68 a quarter, a total of $126, for the service to his mother's house.

Accompanying Warman to the public water authority meeting Wednesday was his landlord, Tom Peto, who lives in Langhorne, Bucks County but owns rental houses in the Panther Valley. Peto brought some of his tenants, who also said their water service was shut off too early after not paying their bills.

In other matters, the authority retained four of its officers in their positions for another year. The fifth office is currently vacant, pending an appointment by borough council, which may make a decision when it meets on Feb. 10.

Council on Jan. 19 tied 3-3, with president Bob Gaughan not voting, on the appointment of Chris Ondrus to the authority. Mayor Ron Hood declined to cast the deciding vote because he oversees the police department, which employs Ondrus as a patrolman.

Also on Wednesday, the authority agreed to buy a 2011 F-350 truck for $38,213.27 from KME, Nesquehoning. The purchase will be made through the state's COSTARS cooperative purchasing program. The program enables municipalities to buy equipment at lower prices and without seeking bids.

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