- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
As of this week, the home of Combs Toney is still scheduled to be sold at tax sale in March to cover unpaid bills that are due to the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission, though the 88-year-old Hollywood resident has never used MetCom’s services.
Those bills now total $719.
In a Tuesday meeting, County Commissioner Dan Morris (R), who has been trying to resolve the situation, said that MetCom employees volunteered to connect Toney’s home to central sewer, and that many others volunteered to pay his unpaid bills.
Last month, “right after the [Dec. 20 Enterprise] newspaper article came out, I had no less than a dozen people volunteering to pay Mr. Combs Toney’s bill,” Morris said. “Nobody asked these individuals to step forward, but they did.”
However, those bills have not been paid, MetCom’s attorney said Wednesday.
“I understand there were some MetCom employees who volunteered their own time and money to hook the connection up to Mr. Combs Toney’s house,” Morris said. “This kind of generosity and thoughtfulness shows the heart of St. Mary’s County. I don’t think the problem is with the guys working or the girls working” at MetCom.
However, Toney’s house is still not connected to sewer, MetCom Attorney Jacquelyn Meiser said this week, and added that she was unaware of any MetCom employees volunteering to do it.
As of now, Toney’s property is still heading to tax sale because of the $719 he now owes MetCom, she said. Toney stopped paying his monthly fees for sewer service he never used at the end of 2012, she said. Even if the bill were to be fully paid, the home still has to connect to the sewer system, unless the family formally gives up its sewer allocation. The family has requested that its sewer allocation be relinquished.
MetCom granted several waivers to Toney since 2006 so he wouldn’t have to connect to the sewer system, and also waived connection fees. The rest of the neighborhood around the intersection of McIntosh Road and Hollywood Road connected to sewer years ago, while Toney’s home is still on septic. It would cost about $3,700 in a one-time fee to connect to the sewer system.
Not paying MetCom service bills is the same as not paying property taxes to local government, Meiser said, and that’s why the property is going to tax sale.
Morris said that considering Toney’s advanced age, any money owed should be paid at the time of the future sale of his property, not at tax sale this year. “He’s not used one drop of MetCom’s water,” he said. But the sewer bills keep coming. “Cancer is what it is. It keeps growing.”
Meiser said any MetCom employees who volunteered to connect Toney’s home to the sewer system would not be able to make that decision on their own without going through the proper procedures.
Meiser said in an email, “Based on conversations I have had with key MetCom operations staff, none of the persons with whom I spoke, including the director of operations, has any knowledge of any representations made to Commissioner Morris, or to anyone else, to indicate that MetCom staff had connected Mr. Toney’s property, or intended to connect Mr. Toney’s property, to the public sewer line.”
The family’s written request to remove the sewer allocation, which would stop the service bills from accumulating, was approved by Phil Shire, director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management.
Shire said it would be advisable to use the sewer allocation rather than relinquish it. “If they can hook up, it’s going to be a lot cheaper than dealing with it later,” with a much more expensive nitrogen-reducing septic system.