The Cedar Grove Township Council adopted a set of guidelines for those who seek water and sewer bill adjustments.
The guidelines, passed in June, state that “adjustments to the sewer portion of any bill will only be considered in the event of broken pipes or emergent situations.”
Emergent situations do not include the filling of swimming pools, outdoor gardening usage or sprinkler utilization, the guidelines indicate.
Also, the results of a meter test will dictate whether an adjustment is warranted.
In case of a water/sewer bill dispute, the township will remove the meter in question and send it to be tested to one of three possible outside parties. Failure to have the meter tested will result in no adjustment.
That clause is one that Cedar Grove’s Kirit Kothari has been fighting since receiving a $10,000 water bill.
Kothari, an Eileen Drive resident, was billed $10,457.90 in 2011 for water consumption. “My bill is normally $100 to $120,” Kothari said at the time.
His meter was tested, determined fine and recycled. Kothari’s lawyer, Charles Damian, says that this left no physical evidence to use for Kothari’s case, as previously reported by the Times.
While Kothari paid the bill, he is still fighting the township’s decision. The resident is currently awaiting a court date with Cedar Grove regarding his 2011 water bill.
“The guidelines are meant to simplify the process of determining whether to adjust a bill, making it more black and white, rather than the gray it was before,” Councilman Robert O’Toole said.
Although the guidelines have always been around, they were not always referenced in the decision making process, according to O’Toole.
“The request for bill adjustments would either be made by the council or the finance officer. And it became inconsistent with who would get their bills adjusted and who wouldn’t. So this makes the decision more consistent,” O’Toole said.
The guidelines are now accessible at Town Hall.
After paying a rather large utility bill and three years worth of lawyer fees, Kirit Kothari refuses to give up.
Kothari, an Eileen Drive resident, paid a $10,457.90 water bill in 2011 in order to keep his water services from being cut-off, according to previous reports by the Times. Three years later, Kothari is still fighting the bill that he says represents an impossible amount of water usage. After mediation between Kothari and Cedar Grove fell through in March, his attorney, Elice Collins of Damian Esq. Charles, has subpoenaed the township for information concerning his case. Now Collins said she is waiting to see if the township produces the information.
“My client didn’t do anything wrong, but he had to pay for an attorney. He had to pay for us. So he’s still expending money,” Collins said, referring to the $4,500 Kothari has spent in legal fees since 2011.
The subpoena, according to Collins, is for all documentation including emails, texts, reports, information, notes, computer data, bills and invoices from January 2010 to July 2014 in connection with each water meter reading taken at Kothari’s. Eileen Drive home. Collins also requested to know whether the reading was taken inside or outside the home, and if the reading was an estimate.
Kothari said his attorney plans to meet with the township’s attorney, Gregory Kotchick, on Sept. 5 in regard to the subpoena. This is the second time the meet has been rescheduled, according to Kothari and Collins.
Kotchick, of Durkin and Durkin, did not return a phone call placed by the Times.