Former aide saw problems at sewer firm
  Patrick Whittle, Register Staff     October 06, 2000

SEYMOUR — A former U.S. Filter employee said she quit her job because of the company’s "multitude of problems," including gross disorganization.

U.S. Filter is the town’s sewer contractor. The Texas-based company bought Professional Services Group, the former contractor, last year. 

Toni Douglass of Beacon Falls, who quit as an administrative assistant at U.S. Filter Sept. 15, said when she took the job last October she inherited a posi-tion with no job specifications and was given no training. She said U.S. Filter had not set up a filing system or kept billing records in the four years the company had served the town. 

"I worked there for 11 months, and for 11 months not a single day went by when I didn’t find something wrong," Douglass said. 

Douglass said no new customers were entered for assessment fees for a year and a half, and she found 600 paid tax liens that were never released. She said she also found a drawer full of bills that were returned to U.S. Filter because they had wrong names or wrong addresses. 

John Caron, project manager for U.S. Filter, said a temporary employee has replaced Douglass. He said he did not know why she left the com-pany, adding that U.S. Filter will miss her. 

Caron, who joined the firm a year ago, said that U.S. Filter plans to expand on the progress Douglass made in organizing the company’s billing and filing systems. 

"Toni did a lot of work in or-ganizing the office and she did a lot in determining what needs to be done to get the bills out," Caron said. "We’re keeping on top of the billing and filing system." 

The Water Pollution Control Authority plans to review the town’s contract with U.S. Filter. 

The 16-year contract was awarded without going out to bid and has been cited by crit-ics as a major reason for the WPCA’s fiscal woes. 

The WPCA is $500,000 in debt, according to WPCA Chairman John Fanotto. The sewer rate was raised from $1.55 per 100 cubic feet of wastewater to $2.85 Wednesday to pay off the deficit and pay the sewer plant’s operating costs. 

Fanotto said U.S. Filter may suffer from the loss of Douglass. 

"She’s an excellent employee, and she’s going to be missed," Fanotto said. "The resolution of most of the billing problems were her doing." 

Checkers International Inc. of Fairfield interviewed Douglass during its special audit of the town’s finances earlier this year. WPCA finances are cited in the Checkers report as a large piece of the town’s finan-cial problems. 

Douglass said she is not cur-rently working because she is "recuperating from the stress of working for U.S. Filter."