The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 25, 2013

Mobile home park sues boro, alleging water overpayment

SOMERSET — Millions of gallons of water may have entered Somerset Mobile Home Court and then leaked into the ground before reaching any of the 107 units on the site.

Now, Metzat Properties, which operates the facility, has filed a civil lawsuit against Somerset Borough over water and sewage bills that the company believes were inflated because of the seepage into the ground and nearby Coxes Creek. Metzat claims the leaks resulted in the company’s being charged for water it never used.

The borough does not feel it is responsible for any lost water in the mobile home court, located off East Main Street.

“We don’t think the borough has done anything wrong,” said Somerset’s solicitor, John Dirienzo.

Metzat paid bills based upon monthly readings taken from a master water meter by the main entrance. Water was then supplied to residents who had their own individual meters to determine personal bills payable to Metzat.

But the company claims it discovered leaks between the main entrance and mobile homes, which resulted in paying for water that residents never received.

Residents were never billed for any of the lost water.

In the lawsuit, Metzat lists the park’s average water use at 585,721 gallons per month from February 2007 through July 2012.

Metzat hired a company to inspect the lines. Once the leaks were repaired, average usage reportedly dropped to 361,850 gallons per month between Aug. 20, 2012, and Oct. 18, 2012.

The leaks would have affected sewage rates, too, because those bills are based upon the premise that whatever water comes in through the master meter later goes out in the sewer system.

“I think it’s abundantly clear that it was leaking and never went into the sewer system,” said Matthew Zatko, an attorney representing Metzat Properties.

Zatko also is a co-owner of Metzat Properties.

Metzat requested a credit for sewage usage that did not enter the system. The petition was denied by the borough. Zatko contends Metzat was erroneously overbilled by more than $50,000.

Dirienzo called the claim of overpayment “speculative.”

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