Property owners will often request that the WPCA waive delinquency interest and penalties. Sometimes the owner neglects to pay for sewer service because the owner fails to receive a bill. Other times financial hardship may prevent timely payment of the sewer bill. More recently, some property owners have declined to open their bills due to self imposed Covid-19 protocols. None of these are reasons that allow the WPCA waiving delinquency interest and penalties under the law. In fact, the WPCA has no legal authority to waive delinquency interest and penalties.
The operative Connecticut General Statutes are Section 7-258 for connection and use charges and Section 7-254 for assessments. These statutes provide that delinquent interest “shall be collected” as part of the underlying charge and “shall be continued, recorded and released” in the same manner as required of property taxes. The use of the word “shall” is mandatory, not discretionary.
Section 12-130 deals the issuance of tax bills and is applicable to the WPCA. This statute specifically states that the “failure to send out or receive any such bill or statement shall not invalidate the tax.”
In a case dealing with the obligation to pay delinquency interest, Braithwaite v. Town of Wallingford, the court held that the collection of delinquency interest is mandatory and that not even the court had authority to waive the payment of delinquency interest on equitable grounds. The court stated that “when the penalty is mandatorily fixed by statute, equity will as a rule apply the requirement of the statute and not relieve the claimant.”
Since the WPCA has no authority to waive delinquency interest and penalties once a sewer use charged or assessment is levied, and since receipt of a bill is not a trigger to the sewer user’s obligation to pay the use charge or assessment, it is incumbent upon sewer users and affected property owners to keep watch for their sewer bills and if not received to call to office to inquire about the amount due and to verify the mailing address that the WPCA has on file. Sewer use bills are sent every June 1 and December 1 and are due by the first working day of the following month. After July 1 or January 2, the bills are delinquent. Assessment bills that apply to some properties are sent out June 1 and due, typically, July 1. To avoid missing a payment, create an online account and sign up for autopay.
It is also incumbent that sewer users and affected property owners keep their mailing addresses up to date. If you notify the assessor, the tax collector or the post office of a change in your mailing address, none of those parties are obligated to forward that new mailing information to the WPCA. Like any other utility, you must notify the WPCA of any change of address.
WPCA Billing Errors
However, if the WPCA has made an error in billing or determining the appropriate commercial rate, the Authority will correct it. The property must provide supporting information and the error must be clearly evident. The WPCA will go back as much as 3-years. See the Billing Adjustment Ruling for more insight into this matter.