EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

November 24, 2013

City's decision on $2,800 water bill angers woman

Charge cut by 60 percent, but she says it's not enough

HAVERHILL — A resident who was charged $2,800 for six months of water from the city system said officials agreed to reduce her bill by 60 percent, but she’s still angry with the decision.

She also said she was insulted by officials at an abatement hearing.

Anne Proctor said her usual quarterly bill is around $100 for roughly 12,000 gallons of water. But in August, she received a bill for $1,593 for about 185,000 gallons of water — more than 15 times her average water usage for three months. Her next bill was for $1,200, leaving her on the hook for almost $2,800 in total.

Proctor said she hired a plumber, who said he could not find any water leaks in her home. She blames a faulty meter, which she had the city replace for $60 midway through her last billing cycle. Her most recent bill with the new meter was back in the $100 range, city officials said.

At a Nov. 13 hearing, the Water and Sewer Abatement Board agreed to reduce Proctor’s bill by 60 percent. Proctor has since paid it, but she is nowhere near satisfied with the decision.

“They gave no rationale for their decision and I still had to pay around $1,200,” said Proctor, who owns a condex near Haverhill High School. “They just picked a number out of thin air. I hired a plumber at my own expense and he inspected my house twice and said he was sure there wasn’t a leak.”

Proctor said a member of the abatement board also made disparaging remarks to her at the hearing about complaining to the media about her high bill and for showing up late for the hearing. She said she had a work commitment and told the board ahead of time that she would send her father in her place and would be there as soon as possible. She said she arrived before the hearing was over.

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