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  1. #1
    dscogin is offline Junior Member
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    Not connected to city sewer for 10 years.

    Arkansas

    I bought this property in Dec 1999. The appraisal stated I was on a septic tank. We had the water turned on in Jan 2000 and the water department was adamant that we were on city sewer. Our property borders the city. Well, 10 years and over $2,000 later I discover we are not on sewer, but are indeed on septic. The city was still adamant that we were on city sewer and we are because the previous owners paid city sewer. The city retreated a little and said we were partially connected to the sewer. After 3 weeks they came out and dug up my front yard to proove me wrong, but instead prooved themselves wrong. I went to the city council meeting where they threatened to fine me for not being connected to the sewer and that I was charged sewer fees because everyone inside the city must pay even when they are not connected, I'm not in the city. They don't want to pay me back.

    I contacted a lawyer who dosen't seem to enthused about this case. I have already researched everything the city has filed with the county and state and there no records where the city ever annexed this property. Meanwhile, another month has passed and I attend another city council meeting. The mayor started by saying they are only "required" to pay back 3 years of the money they charged me for sewer and that I "had" to connect to the sewer because it is now a state law. I countered by saying I'm not in the city limits, they have no proof that I'm inside the city, they cannot force me to connect because their city ordances do not extend beyond their city boundaries. The city attorney mumbled that they can go 10 miles beyond the border. I stated that a lady I work with has rent houses inside the city limits and they are not connected to the sewer. They mayor said they needed some kind of grinder-pumps go get "it" to go uphill. I said that he was talking costs and I asked, so which is it 10 miles, or costs? At this point the mayor screamed that he did not want to talk about it and waved his arms in frustration, so we left, but not before my wife asked if he wanted to talk about it in court? Gotta love her!

    Now I believe my attorney is waiting on me to pay him a little bit to get the paperwork started and said he will serve the mayor this Friday. He also said he would send me a schedule of charges/cost to me yesterday/Monday, but I haven't received it yet. My attorney plans to tack his legal fees onto the $2046 the city owes me.

    The septic tank company and the state health department assures me that I do not need a permit to repair/upgrade my field line because I am grand-fathered in. The only inspection needed is the work must be inspected and approved before the new lines are covered.

    This seems like a very simple case to me, just hard to explain. I would have never paid sewer fees, a very high usage fee, if the city had not said I was connected. I don't know of anybody who would not have believed the city. A person just don't go digging up his back yard to see if the city knows what it is talking about. Although, after this, it might not be a bad idea.

    Does it sound like to you like I should get my money plus attorney fees, or not?
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    So, let's be real:

    You are asking for $2,000.
    They are offering $600

    So, for $1,400, you plan on going to court and, quite possibly, losing?


    If so, that's fine...but let's just be realistic about it.
  3. #3
    dscogin is offline Junior Member
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    They never offered anything. The mayor stated that they are not required to pay but 3 years back. He is either being told false information, or just dosen't understand the limitations. The 3 years he is reffering to just started in Feb. when I found out I am not connected to the sewer. If I accept what he is saying as fact the city gets to keep $1400. If I don't do anything for 3 years the city keeps $2000. So, I have already lost and am just trying to get even. At this point the city has not stated one thing that has turned out to be true, so I won't take their word for anything.
  4. #4
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dscogin View Post
    They never offered anything. The mayor stated that they are not required to pay but 3 years back. He is either being told false information, or just dosen't understand the limitations. The 3 years he is reffering to just started in Feb. when I found out I am not connected to the sewer. If I accept what he is saying as fact the city gets to keep $1400. If I don't do anything for 3 years the city keeps $2000. So, I have already lost and am just trying to get even. At this point the city has not stated one thing that has turned out to be true, so I won't take their word for anything.
    You are going to have trouble proving that the SoL hasn't expired, or whether it even applies. This is a cost vs. benefit thing. You won't get attorney's fees covered, so how much will the attorney cost to get $2,000? I'll bet he'll cost more than $1,400.
  5. #5
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    as others have stated; a statute of limitations most likely will limit how far back you can go. The fact you were told by the seller that you do have a private septic removes any chance of latent discovery. You had the duty to prove your claim once you believed there to be an error. Since you didn't the SoL would not be tolled and what ever the SoL is is what it is. 3 years does not sound like an unlikely time for such an SoL.




    attorney's fees: not a chance The city acted in good faith they were correct. In fact, you even believed them so they had no duty to act any further to investigate the matter. Therefor, no legal fees for you.

    The mayor stated that they are not required to pay but 3 years back
    .so, how much will the improperly paid amount be from the date you file a case and back 3 years?
  6. #6
    dscogin is offline Junior Member
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    I have all my receipts where they charged me sewer and I have the last two months where they have not charged me sewer. Now if the city has been correct all these years why did they stop charging and would that action give some kind of intent or knowledge they were doing wrong by charging me? I know if I am charged for something that is not mine and I make a payment or two it makes me look as if I "feel" responsible for it, dosen't it? I don't know, all I know is in Feb. I thought the roots from a tree had cracked my sewer line and when I dug down and found the septic tank I dug up a whole lot more "trouble" than a cracked pipe.

    The lawyer is charges $750 to go to court. I don't know what all that details, that's just what he said.
  7. #7
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    I have all my receipts where they charged me sewer and I have the last two months where they have not charged me sewer
    so they stopped charging you when they became aware of the mistake. Sounds like the right thing to do.

    .
    Now if the city has been correct all these years why did they stop charging and would that action give some kind of intent or knowledge they were doing wrong by charging me?
    It sounds like they acknowledge you were charged in error. The point is it was not a malicious act. It was an honest error and again, the accept the fact you were improperly billed.


    I know if I am charged for something that is not mine and I make a payment or two it makes me look as if I "feel" responsible for it, dosen't it?
    You have evidence the billing was in error from day one. You failed to act upon your knowledge. They did not have the knowledge you had so they acted as they believed to be correct. Your failure to point out their error is your fault so your actions are limited by your own actions. Now, if you had no reason to believe you were on city sewer other than what the city claimed, they it would be a latent discovery and the time for the statute of limitations very likely would not start running until that discovery. You knew you had a private sewer when they started charging you yet you remained silent. They are not liable for your failure to act.



    how much were the monthly fees you are claiming are owed to you. If you only go back 3 years, how much are they?
  8. #8
    dscogin is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    as others have stated; a statute of limitations most likely will limit how far back you can go. The fact you were told by the seller that you do have a private septic removes any chance of latent discovery. You had the duty to prove your claim once you believed there to be an error. Since you didn't the SoL would not be tolled and what ever the SoL is is what it is. 3 years does not sound like an unlikely time for such an SoL.


    The city acted in good faith they were correct. In fact, you even believed them so they had no duty to act any further to investigate the matter. Therefor, no legal fees for you.

    .so, how much will the improperly paid amount be from the date you file a case and back 3 years?

    This sounds just like what a con artist would do. Tell you something that is false, convience you it is true and rake in the money! Who digs up their yard to see if the city water knows what they are talking about? Next house I buy, that's the first thing I'm doing! I was convenced by the city water dept that I was connected, they believed I was connected while everything was flowing into my backyard. They came out and dug up my front yard to prove me wrong. They proved I was right. It seems clear that the problem only presented itself in Feb when the leak occured, not before. The people who sold me the house also paid city sewer fees and the city stated that as if that was the proof I was connected to the sewer.
  9. #9
    dscogin is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    so they stopped charging you when they became

    how much were the monthly fees you are claiming are owed to you. If you only go back 3 years, how much are they?
    The 3 years only amounts to around $650-700.
  10. #10
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dscogin View Post
    The 3 years only amounts to around $650-700.
    I was dead-on then.
  11. #11
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dscogin View Post
    This sounds just like what a con artist would do. Tell you something that is false, convience you it is true and rake in the money! Who digs up their yard to see if the city water knows what they are talking about? Next house I buy, that's the first thing I'm doing! I was convenced by the city water dept that I was connected, they believed I was connected while everything was flowing into my backyard. They came out and dug up my front yard to prove me wrong. They proved I was right. It seems clear that the problem only presented itself in Feb when the leak occured, not before. The people who sold me the house also paid city sewer fees and the city stated that as if that was the proof I was connected to the sewer.
    you had the statement and the belief you had a septic system. If you believed the city was wrong, then it is your responsibility to figure out the truth. You didn't. Your failure to act is what allowed the problem to continue. If you had acted based on the knowledge you had about a private septic system, you would not have had any damages.

    anyway, if the applicable statute of limitations is 3 years as the mayor stated, you are due the $650-$700. I would accept that and drop the matter. An attorney is going to cost you more than that and his fees are not going to be recoverable and you still wouldn't get more than the $650-$700.

    So, for you it would be a net loss or even, at best. For the lawyer, he is his fees ahead. For the city, the refund what they are legally required to.

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