‘Double billing’ an issue for Lakewood area residents

By Karen Fallon

Delegate Geoff Kidd asked that council direct administration to develop a plan to end double billing for storm sewers and drains in the Lakewood area, at the June 13 meeting.

In order to provide some history leading up to the present day, Kidd informed council that after flooding in the Lakewood Beach area in 1972, the council-of-the-day in Malden Township, under the Drainage Act built a dyke along the road easement called Lakewood Boulevard. This dyke blocked access from possible flood water coming from the Big Creek.

Shortly after a drain storm sewer system known as Lakewood Pump number 1 was installed and the cost assigned to the benefitting landowners.

Geoff Kidd speaks before council monday evening.

A similar storm sewer drain – Lakewood Pump number 2 – was installed in 1989. Again the cost was divided among the benefitting landowners.

Maintenance of the drains has since been assigned to those on the systems.

In 2008, Amherstburg’s council-of-the-day addressed a double billing concern voiced by the Lakewood area residents when they passed a resolution to set aside $2500 for the maintenance of the pumps and systems. According to Kidd this resolution also stated that if repairs or replacements exceeded $2500, only the excess costs would be billed back to the benefitting homeowners.

At that time, says Kidd, the affected home owners felt that the Council had addressed the back charging issue as no more extra charges were then put on the tax bills.

However, says Kidd, this year the residents on the Lakewood pumps have been back-charged for two years of repairs and replacements. Of which, the Town has paid $2,500 for maintenance (hydro) but has billed the homeowners for all of the repair and replacement costs, not just those in excess of $2,500.

“The amounts in excess of $2,500 per year need to be recalculated. I am asking that Council ensure that the resolution is followed correctly,” said Kidd, who added that it wasn’t until 2008 that the rate payers discovered that not only were they paying for their own storm sewers, but also those in historic Amhestburg and Crown Ridge.

However, according to Director of public works and infrastructure, Lou Zarlenga, a total of $5,000 has come “off the top” for the two years and the remainder assessed to the land owners. Zarlenga says the third year is still “being dealt with.”

The Drainage Act provides the municipality with the opportunity to accumulate drainage cost for up to five years, said Zarlenga. “In the case of the Lakewood drain number two the cost was accumulated over three years.

Councillor Sutton requested that a report be brought back regarding the resolution on the pump in question with recommendations from the drainage supervisor on “what we can and can not do under the Act,” in order to address Kidd’s concerns.

There is already a resolution for a report to come back on such pumping stations,” noted councillor Robert Pillon, who asked for a timeline when council would be receiving the report.

Zarlenga, says the report is scheduled to be brought before council at it’s meeting on July 18.

Sutton says learning from “mistakes of the past” it is important that council receive information before talking about “what we can and can not do regarding situations.”

Bills sent by the town in respect to the drain have a due date of June 30 says Kidd, although council won’t receive the report until mid-July.

Mayor Wayne Hurst suggested that the bills be paid by the due date and if it is discovered that the home owners have been over charged they will be reimbursed.

Kidd also requested that council assume ownership of Lakewood Pump number two as it services only residential properties.

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