Fifteen homeowners living with poor well-water quality on Forest Road and Cedar Terrace struck an agreement with the town to extend a water main to their neighborhood seven years ago. But they had never been billed for the work and only recently learned through media reports that the town plans to bill each property $11,830 to be paid over 10 years at five percent annual interest — and that liens would be used to ensure payment.
Several spoke about the issue at the Town Council meeting Monday night.
David LoCascio of Forest Road said neighbors were grateful when the council approved an ordinance for the water main extension in 2004, expected to pay their share for it, but never heard anything.
"We would have liked to have been notified earlier and be able to sit down with you," he told council members. "We are more than willing to pay our share, but we just want to pay what's fair."
LoCascio said he and several neighbors had met with First Selectman Steve Vavrek and Town Attorney John Fracassini, who explained the situation to them. They were told letters would be sent out placing liens on their properties and that they would have 60 days upon receipt to respond.
"What I didn't know is that we would have 30 days to pay $1,532 right away," LoCascio said
He also thought it was unfair to charge back interest seeing that the town had never billed them over the past seven years.
The neighbors are asking that the bills be itemized, so they can see exactly what was paid for and who is supposed to pay what. LoCascio said the town had agreed to pay for certain things years ago. He expressed his hope to receive the information within 10 days, because "the clock is ticking."
"We ask that the town not ask for that scheduled payment until we know what it is," LoCascio said.
First Selectman Steve Vavrek said, "I fully expect to see an itemized bill within the next couple days."
Vavrek apologized for any delay explaining that the town attorney has been away due to a death in the family. "I appreciate you trying to be open," he said to the neighbors.
John Badyrka of Forest Road said, "It was never our intention to not pay the town back." He said he had gone to town hall asking about payments up until 2008, but gave up when no one ever knew anything about it.
Mary Alice and Gregory Citrano just bought their house on Cedar Terrace last November.
"We didn't know anything about this situation until we saw it through the media," Mary Alice said. "I would like a meeting with town officials and the homeowners."
Gregory said, "If money is owed, you should be paid," but he added that he wants to be making decisions with town officials rather than "being on the outside looking in."
Warren Lucid of Forest Road noted how there seemed to be "all the time in the world" when his wife had gone to town hall to ask about the payments over the years and "now everything has to be done right away." He said it is unfair for the people living on fixed incomes.
Michael Riccio of Forest Road also asked for an itemized bill. "We really don't know that the bottom line is," he said.
Town Councilwoman Dee Dee Martin asked First Selectman Steve Vavrek why the neighbors were not notified about the liens sooner.
"Why prior to reading it in the press were these neighbors not advised?" Martin asked.
Town Councilman J.P. Sredzinski said, "I don't think there is any reason why we can't have a fair payment schedule and interest rate. These people were blindsided, even though they knew about it," he added of the seven year delay in billing.
In his town hall office Tuesday morning, Vavrek said, "I'm not blaming anybody in the past. We found this out. Let's move forward. We're trying to fix it."