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Northport mayor urges swift action on sewer assessment appeals process

Northport Mayor George Doll in a 2014 file

Northport Mayor George Doll in a 2014 file photo. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Northport Mayor George Doll says officials must act before October if they are going to improve the sewer assessment appeal system in time for the next billing cycle.

"I'm going to make an effort to speak to the trustees and get moving on it," Doll said Wednesday.

Northport's sewer bills are calculated each October at a rate of $4.07 per 1,000 gallons a property uses. Residents have complained the system for appealing a sewer assessment is arbitrary and results in unfair discounts for some and overpayments for others.

The village allows residents and businesses to seek a reduction if they can make a convincing case that a large portion of the water they use does not go into the sewer. For example, people with large lawns that need watering.

"You want a fair, equitable way of coming up with the right number for each homeowner," Northport resident Ralph Mormile said Thursday. Mormile said he was disappointed his 2014 bill for $1,021.99 was discounted only $300, since he and his wife spend six months a year in Florida, and they have a pool and hot tub.

Doll had announced plans in January for the village to form a committee to evaluate how other municipalities deal with the issue. He said it would include residents and business owners on the village sewer system or with septic tanks.

The village did not form an official committee because residents whom Doll approached were concerned about being connected to a controversial issue for the North Shore village, he said.

Doll said he has met with a group of 10 residents three times since February and has heard promising ideas, but he could not provide details until he has given the trustees a report on the community discussions.

Community recommendations would have to be in by August because changing the sewer rent law would require a public hearing before the village could act on a resolution before assessments are calculated in October, Doll said.

Mormile said he was "happy" the village was working on the issue. "I think they really have to take care of it," he said. "This year, I think more people are going to be watchful of what's going on."

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