P’burg Woman Paid for Non-Existent Sewer Line for Years; Town Says It’s Not Uncommon

A resident of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, recently discovered that she had been paying for a sewer line that didn’t exist for several years. This unsettling revelation came to light when Mary Johnson, a long-time homeowner, consulted with a local plumber regarding persistent drainage issues in her property. The plumber’s investigation revealed that Johnson’s home was not actually connected to the municipal sewer system but instead relied on an old septic tank.

Discovery of the Discrepancy

Mary Johnson, who has lived in her home for over 15 years, had assumed that the sewer charges on her utility bills corresponded to services rendered by the town. However, when drainage problems began to surface, she sought professional help to troubleshoot the issue. It was during this inspection that the plumber informed her that her home was never connected to the town’s sewer line. Instead, her wastewater was being managed by an outdated septic system, which had likely been in place since the house was originally built.

“I was shocked and confused,” Johnson said. “For years, I’ve been paying all these sewer charges. To find out that they were for something non-existent really floored me.”

Town’s Response

Upon confronting the town officials, Johnson was met with an unexpected response. According to the town’s public works director, the situation, although unfortunate, is not uncommon. Phillipsburg has several properties with similar discrepancies due to incomplete records and inconsistencies in the town’s infrastructure management.

“There are various legacy issues from older developments, the director explained. “Records were not always accurately maintained, and infrastructure updates weren’t systematically recorded. This has resulted in some homes being inaccurately billed for services they technically don’t receive.”

The town officials have launched an investigation into how many other homes might be affected by similar billing errors. While they could not provide specific numbers, they acknowledge that properties with older septic systems could be particularly vulnerable to such discrepancies.

Rectifying the Situation

For Johnson, the town has promised to refund the sewer charges she has paid over the years. However, the process of calculating the exact amount and addressing the issue is complex and may take some time. In the meantime, the town has offered to connect her home to the municipal sewer line at no additional cost, a proposal that Johnson is currently considering.

“I appreciate the town stepping in to offer a resolution, but it’s been a frustrating experience,” said Johnson. “I hope that they will thoroughly investigate and correct these errors for other residents who might be in the same situation.”

The Phillipsburg administration is urging residents to report any discrepancies in their utility bills and to check with town officials to ensure accurate billing. The town has also initiated plans to improve its infrastructure records and upgrade its systems to prevent such issues in the future.

Moving Forward

As the Phillipsburg community grapples with these revelations, the incident highlights the importance of accurate municipal record-keeping and transparency. It serves as a reminder to homeowners to occasionally audit their utility services and ensure that they align with their actual usage.

The town’s efforts to address these problems signal a commitment to rectifying past oversights and improving services for its residents. While the resolution may take time, steps are being taken to ensure such discrepancies become a thing of the past.

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