VXR woman billed for sewer hookup she doesn’t have

Sandy Frischman says her water and sewer bill doubled in 2009

A Vancouver woman says the city has been overcharging her for a water and sewage line she doesn't have. (KOIN)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A Vancouver woman tells KOIN 6 News she’s been waiting 4 years to find out why her sewer bill suddenly doubled with no explanation.

Sandy Frischman has lived in Vancouver since 2003, but she says her water and sewer bill went up and she couldn’t figure out why. She says she called the city several times over the years without any luck. The city disputes she called several times.

A Vancouver woman says the city has been overcharging her for a water and sewage line she doesn't have. (KOIN)
A Vancouver woman says the city has been overcharging her for a water and sewage line she doesn’t have. (KOIN)

“Even though I tell them my bill has doubled they keep telling me everything’s OK,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t.”

Frischman wondered if roots from large trees in her front yard were somehow causing her to be charged more. She reached out to officials with Urban Forestry who sent for an employee with the water department.

“We went to her computer and she looked up the past year and I told her to go back further each time until she found it,” Frischman said. “She said I was on city sewer… but I’m not on city sewer. I’m on septic tank.”

The mystery was solved: She was paying for a sewer hookup she didn’t even have.

“I knew I was right,” Frischman said. “Finally somebody is listening.”

Once she pinpointed the problem, Frischman said the city sent 2 men to conduct a dye test to prove she wasn’t using a city sewer line. They came out to her property on Tuesday with the evidence she’d been waiting for.

“I have proof that I’m on septic tank,” she said.

While no one from the city was available to speak with KOIN 6 News on camera, neighborhood liaison Loretta Callahan said Frischman’s situation was complex.

“Vancouver’s Utility, which sent someone to Mrs. Frischman’s home to look for leaks, discovered the sewer billing error when speaking with her,” Callahan wrote in an email to KOIN 6 News. “The error goes back to a nearly identical address that switched from septic to sewer in late 2013. (Unfortunately, when the City sent Ms. Frischman a letter in late fall 2013 confirming she had hooked up to public sewer and that billing would begin, no one responded or the error could have been caught right away.) That’s now been corrected. The Utility  is issuing her a full refund on the sewer billing. The total amount since late 2013 is $402.97. After deducting her new water bill of $36.91, she will get a check for $366.06, which she should receive within the next 7-10 business days.”

Frischman says she hopes her story serves as a warning for others.

“The city and I need to work this out,” Frischman said. “I’m easy to work with so I hope they will do that… Kudos to the employees who came out and did their job, finally.”

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