Ohioville Borough Building / photo via Borough of Ohioville
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The Ohioville Municipal Authority plans to review billing records from over the last four years after recent complaints revealed three inflated monthly invoices caused by book or computer errors.

The authority, which supplies water to 1,007 households in Ohioville, Industry, Midland and South Beaver Township, got 15 complaints since bills landed in mailboxes a week ago, authority Manager Clarence Dawson told BeaverCountian.com.

A couple were found to be the customers’ liability, including a $6,000 residential bill caused by a broken line on the customer’s property. Authority customers typically pay a $34 monthly charge that allows for 3,000 gallons of water usage. A premium charge is applied after that figure. Actual meter readings are done quarterly.

The rest of the complaint cases are still being resolved, Dawson said. “I think we have a handle on it,” he said of the outstanding cases.

He said the suspected issues will be addressed at the authority’s board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Ohioville Borough Building at 6268 Tuscarawas Rd.

Dawson said every complaint will be addressed and resolved. “If we have to do refunds, we will do refunds,” he said. He cautioned that the review of all other customers’ records will take some time.

“It’s not going to be a one-night or one-day reviewing,” he said.

Mike Secchiutti, who has been on the authority’s board about 19 years, said the authority always receives regular complaints from customers who get unexpected bills, and that generally leaking toilets are to blame.

Dropping some dye or food coloring into your toilet tank and waiting 20 minutes to see if the color appears in the bowl might reveal a problem before the cost accumulates.

When it receives a complaint, Secchiutti said the authority sends its technician to compare the inside and outside meters to see if there’s a discrepancy. If none is found, the authority offers its technician’s free assistance in locating where a possible leak might be. Most often it’s going to be the toilets, he said.

If a high bill has already resulted, Secchiutti said it’s the customer’s responsibility. “It’s not fair” that the authority – and therefore all other customers – be forced to pick up the bill, he added.

Finally, if a customer isn’t satisfied with the meter readings, or the technician’s findings, he or she can pay a $50 fee to have their meter sent to an outside company for evaluation. If it’s found to be broken, the fee will be refunded.

In Secchiutti’s experience, he couldn’t recall a meter found to be malfunctioning. “I’m not sure it’s ever happened,” he said. “If it has, it’s very, very infrequent.”

Both men spoke about the negative social media attention the issue has caused in the last several days on so-called Facebook local news sites, technically called discussion groups. Dawson said he received only one phone call personally about the issue, but people posted strings of comments online.

Before an issue is blown out of proportion, they encouraged customers to seek to resolve the issue with the authority first before misinformation is spread and accurate information can be distributed.

If the office phone isn’t answered immediately, “we will get back to everybody,” Dawson said.

BeaverCountian.com reached out to two individuals who had posted on social media about alleged issues with their bills, but did not receive a response as of the time of this report.

Lori Boone
Lori Boone (DeLauter) has more than 20 years of experience in investigative and community journalism. She’s won more than a dozen regional, state and national journalism awards.

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sick and tiredShawn Romancarolyn chambersangry customerKnowledgeable resident Recent comment authors
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a disgusted resident.
a disgusted resident.

Clarence dawson has been hurting the towns residents for years with his uneducated decisions. I don’t mean that statement in a rude way, I mean that he does not take the time to find the facts and history of an issue, he just simply wants it his way and is very defensive. The simple fact that he signed us residents to a long term contract with the vanport water authority is proof enough. It is a known fact , from the PA DEP , that the wells vanport draws our water from is from a contaminated source from the old Westinghouse plant. His decision to have us drink this water is poisoning all of us. Of course he is on well water and doesn’t drink the poison he signed us up on to drink. How do you, Clarence , sleep at night? He or no other council member ever attended any of the town meetings that the PA DEP had concerning the toxins in the water that we are drinking.

Knowledgeable resident
Knowledgeable resident

I cannot comment about clarence but i can comment on the water. Your water is treated by two air stripping towers that remove 100% of the TCE. Also the Levels of TCE are so minute. Your water is very clean! It’s just hard water with calcium and manganese. Stop spreading fear among residents.

angry customer
angry customer

Its obvious that this person must work for vanport water. YOU have to quit defending the quality and safety of your water, don’t put your job before peoples health. And your statement “its just hard water” etc is pitiful. Why don’t you foot the bill for all the seniors and low income families struggling, who because of your water now have to put in new water softener systems that are costing them thousands of dollars!

carolyn chambers
carolyn chambers

the water authority meeting of aug. 13th was attended by close to a 100 residents. a majority of the people present had been told by the boro employees that they had a leaking toilet. some paid for a reg. plumber to prove this was not true. every one should attend the next water auth. meeting.this should be the 2nd tues. of sept. mr. dawson admitted that the water use info. was manually entered into the computer.!!! if there is an investigation into this issue, mr. dawson did not admit to it. why? I am going on line to print out forms for the state utility and state attorney gen. I recommend every one document every conversation with boro auth. time date who you spoke with. keep copies of every bill or expense.

Shawn Roman
Shawn Roman

I’m taking my water to penn state campus beaver to get tested they do many kinds of testing I had my soil checked before

sick and tired
sick and tired

we need to vote Clarence out! he takes care of himself and doesn’t care about the residents of ohioville. he has no background or knowledge of water and the poisons we are all getting from Vanport Water. I was also at the public meeting in Vanport that the DEP held, where were you Clarence?! It was a very alarming meeting. We ARE drinking toxic water! The DEP admitted that our water quality is suspect. We all have to attend the next meeting and demand the boro council to do right by us residents, get rid of Clarence.