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Court: Massena man stuck with $5,000 sewer bill

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CANTON — The state Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by local resident R. Shawn Gray against the village of Massena.

In October of 2009, the village of Massena Department of Public Works, at Mr. Gray’s request, installed a new sewer lateral to Mr. Gray’s home at 56 E. Orvis St.

The village’s invoice for the finished work totaled $5,299.48. In Mr. Gray’s lawsuit, he contended that Massena’s Local Law 230-5(C) was invalid, and that his bill should be reduced to $750. He was represented by attorney Andrew Silver.

In his notice of claim, which was filed late last year, Mr. Gray said he had received an estimate of “up to $3,000” for the work.

After receiving a bill for $5,938.08, which he did not pay, Mr. Gray said in his claim that the bill was later reduced to $5,299.48, the amount the court has ruled he should pay.

While Mayor James F. Hidy declined comment on Friday, when the claim was first filed he had said, “We’re confident that we were right in our billing and he should pay.”

The village was represented by attorney Matthew H. McArdle of Fischer, Bessette, Muldowney & Hunter LLP, Malone.

Mr. McArdle said the Supreme Court’s decision “validates the village’s actions in this case and firmly establishes that the village acted reasonably and appropriately. In dismissing the complaint, the Supreme Court ruled Mr. Gray’s interpretation of the law was ‘strained’ and ‘not supported by the language of the statute,’” Mr. McArdle said.

When asked what the decision means, Mr. McArdle said it means that Mr. Gray is responsible for paying the bill.

“The bill itself has been added to his taxes, so this means that amount will remain on his tax bill as it was relevied,” he said.

He noted Mr. Gray has the right to appeal the decision if he wishes to continue fighting the bill.

Attempts to reach Mr. Gray Friday afternoon were not successful.

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