Rotterdam sewer bill snafu adds over $1,000 to some bills

ROTTERDAM — Something didn’t smell right when residents of Rotterdam opened their annual sewer tax bills to find they had been charged increases of up to 800% over the previous year.

The erroneous invoices cost an average of $1,313, with the highest reaching $3,764.

Officials attributed the increases to an error. Bills will be reduced to an average of $36.75, with the highest being $105.28.

County officials attributed the issue to changing the method of “allocating certain expenses,” according to a statement, and “allocating all expenses to a handful of properties instead of all properties subject to the expense.”

Residents of the No. 2 sewer district received the bills earlier this month, causing an uproar.

“My first priority after hearing about the issue was to find out what was wrong and identify a solution,” Schenectady County Legislature Speaker Anthony Jasenski said in a statement. “County staff rose to the occasion and worked diligently with city officials to determine a course of action to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

The public relations firm representing the city did not answer a question to determine how many households were affected, nor did it make the city supervisor available for an interview.

The city said it had “enhanced controls” in place to prevent future accidents.

“The hard-working men and women of Rotterdam are our priority and we constantly strive to earn their trust,” supervisor Mollie Collins said in a statement. “We apologize for any distress this is causing residents and appreciate the county’s partnership in finding a solution.”

The county will formally advance corrective action at its Feb. 8 meeting.

Taxpayers who have already paid the incorrect bills will be entitled to a refund of the difference between what they paid and the correct balance. Those who failed to do so will have their bills frozen until a corrected bill can be issued without risking interest or penalties, officials said.

Homeowners who weren’t billed sewer tax at all this year will pay this year’s unassessed charges on next year’s bill, an estimated $36, according to the county.

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