A number of Keremeos municipal taxpayers may have paid an additional $25 on their sewer bill due to an error by the village office.
Keremeos resident Darlene Sutton told the Review Friday that she had written a post dated cheque for September 30, 2012, for her sewer payment in the order of $235.
A few days after the cheque’s due date, Sutton realized the cheque hadn’t yet cleared her bank account. Her husband, Ted, went to the village office to inquire about the payment, and was told that the village would look into the matter. The following day, the Suttons were told that the cheque did not get deposited to the bank due to an oversight on the part of the village.
The Suttons’ cheque eventually cleared on October 11 – late for the payment – through no fault of their own. However, when this year’s municipal assessment arrived, Darlene noticed that the bill contained a penalty for $23.50 – for late payment of sewer fees.
It took the Suttons a week to get back to the village about the error, as they were looking after family matters in the Lower Mainland.
Ted returned to the village office, only to be told that he would need proof that the Suttons had paid the bill on time – which meant another trip back home to retrieve the bill. Finally, upon viewing their latest statement from the village, the Suttons noticed that the balance still showed the penalty – so back to the village office to get that corrected.
In the past few days, Sutton said that she has run into several people who claim that they had a late payment fee deducted.
Keremeos resident Eleanor “Bundie” Page experienced a similar issue after hearing Sutton’s story.
“I had sent a post dated cheque for sewer payment as well,” she told the Review. “If Darlene hadn’t told me about it, I wouldn’t have noticed the late payment fee.”
Both parties wondered how many other Keremeos ratepayers were unfairly penalized, urging those who sent post dated cheques to the village for their sewage notice to check their bill for late payment charges.
The Review asked Keremeos Chief Administrative Officer Laurie Taylor in an email sent May 31, and again on June 3 and 4 asking why there was such a long delay in acting on the matter and how many village residents were affected. She had this to say about the problem on June 3:
“Apparently there was a glitch in posting the penalty on the outstanding sewer bills last fall and that problem has taken time to fix. Staff had already been working on the necessary corrections and adjustments prior to the issue being raised by the residents. At the time Mrs. Sutton brought it to our attention, the adjustments had not been posted to the affected tax accounts as we needed to ensure the problem had been corrected. The adjustments have now been posted and we are confident the issue has been resolved.”