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Franklin family faces water shut-off

A Franklin Township family was set to have their water service shut off today due to an outstanding balance of over $12,000.

Sherry Vargson, who resides on Held Street, said several years ago when the township installed municipal sewer, her family didn’t have the $2,500 tap-in fee to pay in one lump sum.

“Though I’ve made thousands of dollars in payments on this sewer account over the years, we’ve never been allowed to hook to the sewer or used their sewer service in any way,” Vargson said. “They have our bill at over $12,000 for these unused services.

“Now they’re threatening to have Lehighton Borough shut off our water on or after April 30 unless the bill is paid.”

Vargson said they get their water from Lehighton, where their water bill is paid.

“We’re in good standing with them and always have been,” she said. “I guess because the township can’t shut off services we’re not even using, they’re instead going to have the borough shut off our water.”

Vargson said she’s pointed out the new regulations put into effect when the COVID Utility Shutoff Moratorium ended and tried to make a payment arrangement with them according to these regulations.

“They refused my offer, and instead said they would accept no less than $4,000 to stop the shut-off,” she said. “At least one of my doctors either submitted a medical certificate, or will (immediately), but I’m concerned they will decide to not honor that regulation either.

“I feel the township has chosen to put my family’s safety in jeopardy over nothing but greediness and disconcern for our welfare,” she said. “I’ve sent out a bunch of letters to our elected officials and government agencies in hopes someone will step in and help.”

Board of supervisors Chairman Jason Frey defended the township.

“She owes a large outstanding balance, not only with sewer, but a large outstanding balance with garbage that is up there equal to what the sewage is,” Frey said. “We’ve tried over the years several times (to put her on a payment plan).”

Frey added, “We don’t want to shut people’s water off, but it’s not fair to the other residents that pay every month and she pays nothing, has attempted to do nothing.

“What we did when I first came in (on the board because), so many people owed to the sewer, it was outrageous, it was well north of $300,000; we’ve done a tremendous job getting that down to under $200,000,” he said. “We sent a letter to everybody saying come and see us, get a payment plan, gave it like 50 days. Then, we sent out another letter to people who didn’t answer us, (to put) 30% down and make double payments to catch up, and she was one of them. She hasn’t paid nothing at this point, her home is up for sheriff’s sale.

“What we did was we offered her the same thing we offered everyone else, 30% down, double payment plan, let’s get it down. Everyone else is on a payment plan, and those who didn’t, their water was shut off.”

Frey added the township believes what’s good for one should be good for all across the board.

“We want to be fair to everybody,” he said. “Everybody had to hook up (it was) mandatory before I got in.

“That’s not on us that she decided not to hook up. Her problem she creates herself.”

Frey said the township doesn’t want to shut off her water.

“Really none of us like that we have to make that decision, we have to be fair across the board. What we do for one, we have to do for everyone,” Frey said.

He said she had two chances previously.

“We’ve shut her water off before, and it got turned back. She filed bankruptcy, and we had to turn it back on by law.

“She had that time since. It’s very hard; I feel for her, and I really don’t want to, but at the same time, she should have just paid her payment, or double payment, and she wouldn’t be in this problem.”