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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Should an 88 Year Old Man Lose His Home Over a $720 Sewer Bill? I Say No (and with your help, so might the General Assembly).

Update: Members of the St. Mary's County delegation to the General Assembly will be meeting to discuss legislative changes to MetCom's tax lien authority.  Please keep making calls and sending emails!

Original Post
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, an 88 year old man in St. Mary's County, named Combs Toney, was faced with the possible loss of the home he had lived in since the age of 5. Mr. Toney's home was never connected to our public water and sewer operated by a quasi-governmental utility - MetCom. Even though Mr. Toney was never connected to the public water/sewer and had his own well and an inspected and properly functioning septic tank, but because of his proximity to the public lines he was required to pay for monthly service. Mr. Toney paid his "bill" for many years. But his retirement income became tight after his wife became ill and required in-home dialysis (which she still receives). Something had to give, so Mr. Toney decided that he would no longer pay MetCom for a service he didn't receive. But MetCom has a power that few other utilities have - MetCom has the power to impose a tax lien on someones home for lack of payment. As Mr. Toney's bills accrued, MetCom imposed the tax lien and was taking his house to public auction. The sum total of his overdue bills? $719. MetCom refused to consider Mr. Toney's circumstances and argued they were required by law to impose the lien. He was 88 and facing the loss of his home, a home where his wife was receiving dialysis. Mr. Toney's bill has since been paid, but only through January 31st. At which time his bills will once again accrue and a tax sale threat could return.

I am asking people to take action and prevent this from happening to others. I need people to contact the Democratic members of the General Assembly from St. Mary's County and urge them to introduce legislation that would restrict or eliminate MetCom's power to impose tax liens. They should rely on the same bill collection practices of other utilities such as electric or phone.  If you are so inclined, would you consider contacting Del. John Bohanan, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3227, john.bohanan@house.state.md.us,  or Johnny Wood, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3170, john.wood@house.state.md.us, or Senator Roy Dyson, 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3673, roy.dyson@senate.state.md.us, and ask them to introduce a bill that would restrict or eliminate MetCom’s power to impose tax liens? Otherwise this will happen again, either to Mr. Toney or to someone else.