AUGUSTA — A trial resumes this morning in a case in which Hallowell residents say they are being charged too much — $950,000 too much — for sewer services from the Greater Augusta Utility District.

More than a dozen people watched the first day of the trial Wednesday as Dennis Kinney, superintendent of the Hallowell Water District, described the history of rate-setting and the rates in dispute.

Justice Nancy Mills is presiding in the nonjury trial in Kennebec County Superior Court and is expected to rule in the case later.

The attorneys, the judge, Kinney and several other people involved in the case had thick notebooks containing figures and the history of the case.

At issue is the percentage of costs for treatment allocated between sewer and stormwater customers, Kinney testified. The disputed rates went into effect last October.

Attorney William Harwood, who represents Hallowell Citizens for Fair Sewer Rates — the plaintiffs — said they are asking the judge to order the Greater Augusta Utility District to modify those rates.

“We want them to make three corrections to assumptions the district used to calculate rates,” Harwood said.

He said the rates for sewer customers on average increased 35 percent and a stormwater customer’s bill increased 40 percent.

“The stormwater (charge) should be much higher, and the sewer (charge) lower,” he said.

The stormwater customers are all in Augusta.

“We believe sewer customers are being overcharged by $950,000 per year,” Harwood said. The new rates were scheduled to remain in effect for five years.

Harwood said the plaintiffs want the money refunded.

The defendant, the Greater Augusta Utility District, is represented by Michael Hodgins.

At the start of the trial, Hodgins objected to the inclusion of new evidence that was not considered by the trustees of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

Harold Smith, a Charlotte, N.C.-based expert on water and wastewater financing, testified Wednesday on behalf of the utility district.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]


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