GRAHAM, N.C. (WGHP) — A woman in Graham feels as if the city is robbing her for paying a sewage bill for more than a decade after just finding out she has a septic tank in her yard and didn’t need to pay the bill.

Carla Shields says it’s peaceful living at her home on Larry Avenue in Graham. She calls it her piece of heaven.

“I’ve lived here…almost 14 years,” Shields said. “A nice little quiet spot. I love it.”

She thought she knew just about everything about the home she had been renting for more than a decade, but she found out she was wrong a few weeks ago.

Her toilet got clogged, and she had to get plumbers to come out to fix the problem.

When they made it to her home to try to fix the issue, crews discovered a septic tank buried on the side of her home

“My problem is if I am not using the service…it’s fraudulent charges,” she said. “How are they coming up with these charges when there’s no usage?”

She reached out to Graham City Hall about the sewer charges.

“They told me I could only receive payment back for two years, and it was the landlord’s responsibility to do the hookups for the city lines,” she said.

We reached out to Graham city leaders at City Hall about the situation

The city manager did not want to speak on camera and referred FOX8 to the general state statute that says tenants can recover any penalty regarding finances from the city dating back to two years.

City leaders say in most cases, the homeowner will go through the process to connect to the city water and sewer services at the same time.

Once everything is taken care of and access is available, the customer is required to come in and apply for the services.

Then the account is set up for the next full billing cycle. If the owner then decides not to connect to one of the services after they have set up for both, they have to make city officials aware so they can verify and make sure they are not billed for the service.

” I didn’t ask for a credit,” Shields said. “What about the other…13 years of money that was spent? What about that?”

She says she has been paying a sewage bill averaging around $35 monthly since 2008.

She worries she won’t ever get back the thousands of dollars in payments she believes she is owed.

“If this has happened to me, how many others have this happened to, and they don’t know? Sure, $25 here and $35 there doesn’t seem like a lot. But over the years, that adds up,” Sheilds said. “For someone like me on a fixed income, I just want my money.”

City crews came out Friday to connect her city lines, so she no longer uses the septic tank.