The Village of Dresser recently discussed the issue of underpaid bills for sewer water treated by the Village of Osceola at their regular monthly meeting in November. Due to misreading at the treatment plant from 2014 to 2016, an estimated $60,000 of underpaid bills went unprocessed. Before moving further, the board sought the legal counsel from village attorney, Tim Laux, who presented his advice in the December 2 meeting.
In order to fully understand the circumstances, Laux reviewed the contract between Osceola and Dresser in March 15, 1984. “Basically, this contract agrees that Dresser pay its share of wastewater treatment costs that Osceola bills to it on a quarterly basis,” he said. “This agreement requires that the two governing bodies get together every year to review and adjust the charges for the following year. That would have commenced in 1985, but I don’t know if that’s been happening for the last 30 years, or not, but that’s the requirement in the contract.”
The board noted that annual meetings were not taking place between Osceola and Dresser regarding quarterly sewer flow rates that could have potentially caught the billing issue before the point of reaching a $60,000 bill. Despite how the mistake occurred, the issue of paying the bill is the first priority according to Laux.
“First, you have to pay the debit, or acknowledge the credit,” he said. “If there is a dispute in either Osceola, or Dresser, if there is any credit to be paid or acknowledged, that has to be done first… Then there are provisions for the disputing party to give a written notice, or set up a meeting to settle the dispute.”
After some discussion after the report from Laux, Karen Andrie called for a recommendation to hold a special meeting with the Village of Osceola to discuss the billing issue in detail. “I think that we need to have this meeting as to what the next step should be,” she said. “I also think we need to look back at those years and come up with what we paid in sewer charges – especially 2016 when they’re saying we didn’t pay anything.”
In keeping to the initial contract, the board approved a motion to form a group of three representatives to set a meeting with the Village of Osceola including trustee Grace Bjorklund, president Bryan Raddatz, and attorney Tim Laux.
“I would encourage asking very specific questions,” Laux recommended during the meeting with Osceola. “I think those questions are entirely appropriate. I would like to see the actual readings and what the readings were supposed to be to figure this out.”