RIVERSIDE — Approximately 23 borough homes owe a combined total of roughly $24,000 in sewer payments to Riverside borough.
In some cases, there are houses that owe between $1200 and $1500, said council president Peter Fleming. To reach this amount of debt, the household would have had to not pay sewer costs for about three years.
The 23 homes cover all three sewer districts of the borough, said the council at their Sept. 16 work session.
Riverside sewer rates currently are between $115 and $150 depending on a household’s location within the borough.
Under Pennsylvania law, sewer service cannot be cut off to a residence.
Sewer payments have been an ongoing battle for Riverside borough for the past few years, with the total amount owed nearing $30,000 at one point, Fleming said in a conversation after the meeting. While that amount was significantly reduced over the course of 2012, it has now crept back up.
Some of the monies owed come from households that were previously taken to court over delinquent payments. At the time of the court hearing, they had paid just enough to get below a $500 debt limit imposed by the borough. Since then, the amount they owed has continued to grow.
The first course of action in these cases is to put a lien on the property that owes money, but unless the house is sold the borough has no means of collecting that money, Fleming said. Some of the offenders have sold their property since liens were placed on them, he said. Borough secretary Deb Bausch said that several of houses that currently owe money are in foreclosure or in the process of being resold.
As a last resort, a household’s property can be confiscated by the Northumberland County sheriff’s department to recoup costs, Fleming said.
The borough council wants to review the delinquent accounts with the borough solicitor at their next meeting on Oct. 7.
The borough council delayed an increase in sewer rates this summer as Riverside was able to meet costs with the funds it currently had, Fleming said. The rates were expected to increase by $30. The next sewer rate increase is scheduled for the start of 2014.
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