Guidelines on Vacant Properties
The Frackville Area Municipal Authority (FAMA), is authorized by law to charge sewer rates on the basis of properties that are or should be serviced by the FAMA Sewage Collection System. One of the key factors in establishing the rates is the availability of service to any person or individual or property, and not simply whether or not that service is used. However, in an attempt to be fair FAMA has a longstanding policy concerning the exemption of certain properties when those properties are vacant and not used. FAMA refined its policy in circumstances where properties would be rarely used such as only on a weekend, but not entirely vacant for an entire quarter or more. The policy adopted is this: Where a property remains connected to other utilities such as electricity, water, or the like and therefore is available for occupancy, but the property owner can demonstrate to FAMA’s satisfaction that the property is in fact only occupied rarely, for example, a few days per month per quarter over the course of an entire year, the owner of the property serviced will be responsible for six (6) months or two quarters of every four (4) quarters consecutively used in that fashion.
Just as in the case of a complete vacancy, it is the property owner’s responsibility to inform FAMA and to demonstrate to FAMA the limited use of the property before FAMA will grant the exemption or reduction in sewer rates. In order to be fair to all the rate payers of the Frackville area this exemption as stated above only applies to those properties which have a permanent limited use, permanent being defined as a period of a year or more. Each property owner must inform FAMA at least on a yearly basis of whether the circumstances remain the same, otherwise, the normal billing shall resume.
No adjustment will be made if a property becomes vacant within a certain quarter, that particular quarter must be paid in full. If the property continues to be vacant into the following quarter an adjustment can be made for that portion (or entire quarter) of the quarter in which the vacancy continues.
If a property is vacant and the water service has been terminated by the Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC) at the curb stop, FAMA will not bill for sewerage services. It is the property owner’s responsibility to notify FAMA when any water service is terminated so billing can be suspended. In the event a water service has been restored on a property it also the property owner’s responsibility to notify FAMA of this action.
If FAMA discovers a property is occupied and utilizing the sewer service and not paying for sewer service, it is FAMA’s policy to back-bill for five (5) years of service.