CHARLTON, Mass. — Paul Gagner, owner of Charlton Laundromat in Charlton, Mass., and a water-sewer commissioner, has filed a lawsuit against the town and the board on which he serves, seeking $50,096 in sewer fees and $15,360 for loss of revenue, according to the Telegram.
The complaint filed in Worcester (Massachusetts) Superior Court claims that the coin laundry was overcharged $33,696 in sewer usage fees. According to the complaint, from 2000 through 2006 the sewer bill averaged $1,211 per quarter, but in 2006 it jumped to $4,982 and in 2007 it went up to $5,345 per quarter.
Gagner’s first complaint to the Water-Sewer Commission in March 2006 claimed that its use of the state Department of Environmental Protection Title 5 formula to compute sewer rates was unfair.
The Title 5 formula equates the $1,211 per quarter charge to about five washing machines, so when an inspection discovered more than 30 machines at the store, the quarterly charges were increased. That’s when Gagner stopped paying the bills.
The coin laundry switched from Title 5 to metered billing in April 2007, and soon after the first meter reading, Gagner claimed the new method was also inflated. When elected to the Water-Sewer Commission himself in May 2007, he hadn’t paid the sewer bill since December 2005 and owed the town $21,857.
In July of last year, he was one of three commissioners who voted to lower the metered rates, which cut his quarterly bill in half from $2,468 to $1,024 per quarter.
In October 2008, Gagner owed $39,089 in sewer debt, some of which was liened against the store. Gagner is currently on a monthly payment plan to pay back the $11,974 that is still outstanding.
Gagner’s suit against the town and board also claims that there was an improper privilege fee of $16,400 for connecting another business to the town sewer and asks for $15,360 for loss of revenue because the town denied the use of video games at the laundry.
When asked how the department would pay if Gagner prevails in court, Commission Chairman John W. Elliott Sr. said, “I don’t think he will get any money back. He’ll get a credit or abatement,” according to The Telegram.