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City Emails Concerning Illegal Sewer Fix Released
For the past month the city of green rivers actions to repair a sewer line on Colorado has been both the subject of debate at city council meetings, and in the eye of the media. Tuesday nights city council meeting looked uneventful, until Councilman Gene Smith requested a financial payment statement be moved from the consent agenda to the council action items. The statement in question was a 12,860 dollar bill paid by the city to Aaron's Plumbing for the sewer repairs on private property. Answering the question once and for all one whether or not the city would pay the bill.
One after another the mayor and city council members would all make the same statement “ A mistake was made”---except for Jim Boan...Who's been at the center of the debate since day one... and Gene Smith whom had much harsher words for the council, calling it “the worst violation of the charter ordinance that I've ever seen, period.”
Below are the E-Mails The Radio Network released on 8/31/2012
JIM BOANS ORIGINAL EMAIL
Most of you know about the sewer problem on the corner of Colorado and Arizona. Something happen to the line and there is raw sewage in the ground and could soon be seeping into the drain which would lead to the river. The home owner understands that they may be responsible for the repair. Past action has been for the home owner to have the line dug up and then the city will decide who will pay for the repair. It is not easy for most home owners to come up with this amount of money and in this case will probably not be able to. In the mean time the raw sewage can be smelled from standing on the sidewalk. I would like to propose that we set a policey to set aside $10,000 into a fund that would pay for repair if it is in fact the home owners responsibility but they are unable to come up with the money for the project. They would be required to pay the money back in monthly payments. The money could be taken from the tourism line item. I know the city should not be in this kind of buisness but something has to be done with the sewage as soon as possible and this is one way that it could be done. Hank and Tom has already agreed to my idea, please let me know if you will support this or not and if one more does it can be put on the agenda for Tuesday night and the work can begin.
LISA MAES RESPONSE
I believe we do have a responsibility to protect the health and well being of all the citizens, and if this family cannot afford to remedy this problem immediately, I think we should take care of the problem and figure out what to do about repayment later. You have my agreement on this Jim
GENE SMITH RESPONSE
I have not decided how I would vote on the issue but will make some comments:
·I would like to hear from Galen about the legality of the city going into the lending business.
·Jim, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “the city should not be in this kind of business”.
·I agree with Lisa we have a health and safety obligation.
·The people last summer who had similar issues ‘couldn’t afford it either’ and they ended up taking out a second mortgage.
Bottom line, if the property owner can’t, won’t, or doesn’t make the repairs, the city will have to. Right now, I’m thinking it might be more proper for the city to make the repairs, send the owner a bill for the cost and record it so the city gets repaid from the proceeds in the event the property gets sold – somewhat like a tax lien. I am leaning against establishing a fund from tax payers money for the city to enter a business we should not be in. We can resolve the issue without going into the lending business.
GEORGE MICHAEL IN AN EMAIL TO MAYOR HANK CASTILLION
I was informed by Jason Palmer, that last Friday when I was out of the office, the mayor told Jason to hire a contractor to dig up a resident’s sewer line at 1540 Arizona Street. Jason told me he informed the mayor that this was against City ordinance and the mayor told him to do it anyway. City ordinance states that the home owner is responsible for the sewer line from his home to the main. If there is a question whether the city or a contractor created the problem, the resident can hire the work done and then file a claim with the city if they believe it to be a city or contractor caused problem. The reason this policy was established over the years is because we get so many sewer complaints and we should not hire contractors for residents when history proves it is almost always the resident’s problem, as is the case in this issue at 1540 Arizona Street. The Utility Division televised the main line last week to verify the main and the connection between the lateral and the main was in tact and clear. On Saturday and Sunday, August 4-5, the Utility division witnessed the digging of the home owner's sewer line by Aaron's Plumbing and verified there was absolutely nothing wrong with the sewer line. The only problem with this line now, is that the plumber the city hired to dig up the line, hit the line twice and actually broke the line in one place while he was digging and now there will always be a weak spot at this location. This line never should have been dug up – the plumber should have done a better job of snaking and clearing the line in the first place; the city should never have gotten involved and now the city is liable for the plumber's fees ($12,900) and for the extended overtime put in by the Utility Division (over 12 hours of overtime). You have a staff that has many years of experience with these situations, they told the mayor that the last construction in this area was done in 2009 so there would be no reason this could just now be creating a problem, and they also told them that there was no public safety issue since there was no way there was sewer in the catch basin as someone suggested. If they would have listened to the staff, all this mess could have been avoided.
The City encouraged residents to purchase a very affordable insurance policy to cover this kind of problem, and it is a big mistake for the city to take over the responsibility for resident’s that choose not to take advantage of the insurance program. We have followed this policy for over 25 years, and it is not fair for the city to not follow the policy for certain residents and expect us to be able to enforce the policy for others – we cannot treat people different depending on our view of their financial situation.
This should never have occurred – if the council chooses to change a policy or ordinance, it should be voted on by all members and discussed with the staff who has experience in these issues. In conclusion, what are we going to say and do for all future home owners who have any type of sewer problems?
HANK CASTILLIONS RESPONSE
George, first of all you are totally out of line in making these accusations. The Mayor cannot direct any staff member to do anything. I suggest you get all your facts straight before going off half cocked. I have asked the City Administrator to schedule a meeting with your Supervisor to further discuss this issue. I am aware of the ordinances and besides that this mess is still unresolved as far as I am concerned.