Quincy officials have passed a revised sewer ordinance that will put in place a number of fees for sewer-related activities within the next few months.
The fees and the property liens, which take effect July 1, 2013, were passed by the council on Monday night.
The change follows a similar ordinance change passed for water. However, those charges, which include a $100 charge for residents every quarter who have refused to switch to the virtually read water meters, have already gone into effect.
Sewer charges include a $375 charge for a new sewer connection to be installed, a $5,000 charge for an unauthorized sewer connection, and charges ranging from $500-$2500 for unauthorized sewer use, first through third offenses.
Sewer pipe inspections will also cost homeowners $200, and any denial of access to a resident’s property will cost $25 a visit.
“This allows us not only to go in and make inspection,…but force people to be doing what they should be doing and if not the city can do it ourselves and send them a bill,” Raymondi said
Of the 21 charges, most are meant to be a message sent to residents who would use their sewer connections in an unlawful manner.
“You have people continually elicit our sewer system and we’re charging them $10. That’s not strong enough. We want to get their attention and also ... give us the ability to correct it,” said DPW Commissioner Daniel Raymondi at the council meeting.
Though Raymondi did not have comparisons for what other towns in the region charge for similar offenses, he said the costs were compiled by the city’s law office, a city engineer, DPW employees, and Woodard & Curran, the city’s consultant for flooding projects throughout the city, and were adequate to either send a message or pay for services the city was giving.
“[This is] what it would cost employees to go out and make a repair or make corrective action. Others are sending an extremely strong message,” Raymondi said.
The document will also enable the city to hold homeowners accountable if the city is charged by a federal entity for breaking the law.
“We’re going to be held accountable at some point by Mass Water and other regulators. If it continues to occur, we’re spending a lot of money trying to take inflow and infiltration out of our system and trying to improve our infrastructure,” Raymondi said. “It is better for the environment, brings our rates down…so we need to stop it, stop it as soon as we can.”
Although councilors were supportive of the measure, they were cautious to enact fees for rules many people might be breaking without knowing.
“I’m of the mind set that you enlighten, not frighten,” said Councilor Doug Gutro. “You do a public education campaign and let people know the rules have changed. We will give you a short period of time to come into compliance, but here is what they are, here is how you can get guidance to remedy it. It’s in the interest of the city as a whole, of the taxpayers.”
Councilors subsequently added an amendment to the ordinance change, requiring the DPW to go out on a public awareness campaign prior to the fines being enacted in July.
The fines will be as follows:
-New connection – application and inspection: $375
- Unauthorized sewer connection: $5,000
- MWR Special Assessment: the cost charged to the city by the MWRA
- Unauthorized sewer use – first offense: $500
- Unauthorized sewer use – second offense: $1000
- Unauthorized sewer use – third offense: $2500
- Sewer Pipe Inspection – single instance: $200
- Sewer pipe Inspection – multi-day: $200 a day
- Denial of Access to premises/property: $25 a visit
- Private infrastructure analysis: cost charged to the city
- Private infrastructure repair: cost charged to the city
- Lateral maintenance – residential: $375
- Lateral maintenance – non-residential: $1000 or $500 an hour, whichever is greater
- Lateral repair or replacement: employee cost plus labor
-Prohibited discharge – residential and large residential or residential mixed, first offense: $1000
- Prohibited discharge – residential and large residential or residential mixed, second offense: $2500
- Prohibited discharge – residential and large residential or residential mixed, third offense: $5000
- Prohibited discharge – non-residential, first offense: $2500
- Prohibited discharge – non-residential, second offense: $5000
- Prohibited discharge – non-residential, third offense: $7500
To read the entire ordinance and see definitions, click here/a>.