St. Louis Public Radio News
7:41 am
Thu February 26, 2009

County sued over sewer fees

St. Louis, MO – A group of 14 home and property owners is suing the St. Louis County revenue collector for improperly charging a fee that funds repairs to sewer lines that feed homes.

The class-action lawsuit filed Thursday cites a variety of allegedly improper charges. It accuses revenue collector John Friganza of levying the fees against condominium buildings with more than six residents, and charging all residents of smaller condo complexes the entire fee, rather than pro-rating it. Friganza is also accused of charging the fee to residents who use private sewer systems, and to developers who had not yet hooked their properties to public sewer lines.

"We're looking at one small fee," said Sandy Rothschild, a commercial developer who is serving as a consultant to the plaintiffs. "What happens if we start looking at other tax rates?"

Rothschild says there's also evidence that some residents aren't being charged the required fee.

"So the picture you get is a collector who doesn't really know what he's doing," he said.

The lawsuit seeks refunds for the alleged overbillings, which are estimated at $10 million. Rothschild says several thousand taxpayers could be part of the class.

A county spokesman would not comment on pending litigation.