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Saugus homeowner says his tax bill reflects a questionable water meter reading

Hari Krishna Burlakoti
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  Hari Krishna Burlakoti was happy with the reaction he got from selectmen late last month when they told him they thought his $16,634.75 water bill was way too high.

  But Burlakoti was back in panic mode this week when he opened his tax bill and learned that it had nearly quadrupled because of more than $16,000 in special assessments added in an effort to collect the water bill.

  “I can’t afford to pay this,” Burlakoti said.

  “I don’t think it’s right that they’re trying to charge me for an astronomical amount of water that I didn’t use. Please help me. Somebody needs to help me,” he said.

  If people used common sense, they would know that nobody used that much water at my house.

  At their Dec. 27 meeting, selectmen questioned the accuracy of the water meter reading at Burlakoti’s one-family-three-bedroom ranch home at 22 Wilbur Ave.

  He noted that the water usage on Aug. 18, 2021 was 1,120 cubic feet, resulting in a “normal” water bill of $187.

  But on the Feb. 28, 2022 bill, Burlakoti noted a whopping $15,601.46 based on a reading of 79,806 cubic feet.

  Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini said he had trouble believing the meter reading was accurate.

  “I didn’t know that that street was like an ocean. So, they clearly don’t have a leak leaking out to the ocean,” he said.

  “I don’t think you guys are trucking water out in water trucks,” Cicolini quipped.

  Selectmen told Burlakoti and members of his family that they didn’t have any authority to make a decision on Burlakoti’s request and that it was Finance Director & Treasurer/Collector Wendy Hatch’s decision to make.

  But they voted unanimously to refer the matter to Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree and Hatch and request that they get back to board members with a report before their next meeting on Jan. 10.

“This won’t get swept under the rug,” Cicolini assured Burlakoti.

“It will be dealt with,” he added.

The Jan. 10 meeting was rescheduled to Jan. 17 (next Tuesday).

  Burlakoti said he planned to go to get some answers on why he is being forced to pay an exorbitant water bill that he believes was based on a faulty water meter reading.

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