City Manager Eric Wilmarth explained to the council how an overwhelming number of pipes burst in the city with the freezing temperatures seen throughout the county in recent weeks, and many residents don’t want to pay for the water.
“You will probably be hearing from some residents,” Wilmarth told council at the meeting. “They don’t want to pay for the water that came through their meter and leaked out underneath their house.”
Wilmarth said, if a leak happens between the house and the meter, the city has a policy to help pay for the expense. However, if the leak doesn’t fall between the house and the meter, it’s the resident’s responsibility to pay for it.
“If it’s in the house or under the house, we don’t help with it,” he explained. “We had several houses that have crawlspaces, with pipes hanging just underneath the house, and they freeze and break.”
Wilmarth said all but one of the pipe breaks were at private residences, and said it’s a “tough situation.”
“When someone is hit with an $800 or $900 water bill, that’s awful,” Wilmarth said.
He said the cost for water grows when the city has to purchase it.
“We were in a situation where we weren’t producing water. When we produce water, we do it for probably 50 cents per 1,000 gallons. When we buy water, we’re paying $4.90 for every 1,000 gallons. So, we’re paying a lot more, and we’re trying to figure out a fair way to balance the cost for them,” Wilmarth said.
Also at the meeting, City Clerk Karen Jordan swore in incumbent council members John Byrd and Mickey O’Malley, and Mayor Rick Roberts, who all returned to their seats without opposition in the 2013 city election.
Also at the meeting, council unanimously voted to use North Metro Waste services this year — the city’s present provider. Council also unanimously voted to use Closer Looks Landscaping for parks maintenance this year.