First, the Centerville City Council told the homeowner tough luck. Then it offered to pay half. Eventually, Council knuckled under and agreed to pay for the entire repair of a broken curb stop and associated expenses at its April 13 meeting.
In the meantime, council members reviewed whether they had a sound policy in place to determine who pays for what plumbing repairs and whether they were following that policy.
It all started when Jim Van Houdt, president of Twin Town Homes of Eagle Pass and Ralph Karlinski, its resident property manager, asked the city to help pay the $7,227.17 repair bill after the curb stop at 1742 Ojibway Drive broke Feb 2.
A curb stop is the valve that the city installs on the edge of the street to turn water service off and on to a building. The bill does not include repairing a large hole that formed in the driveway as a result of the break.
Karlinski speculated that frost in the ground caused the ground to raise and cause the breakage.
Van Houdt said he conducted surveys of how various cities divide the repair costs and found that some cities take care of all repairs, while others leave repair costs to the homeowner.
City Administrator Dallas Larson said that city code from two years ago says that the curb stop as well as the line into the house is the homeowners responsibility.
"Here in Centerville, from the (water) main to the curb stop is the city's responsibility and from the curb stop to the house is the property owner's responsibility", he said.
The pivotal question seems to be whose responsibility it is to take care of the area in the middle.
Van Houdt and Karlinski agreed that if the service pipe on the residential side of the curb stop had broken, then the property owners would be responsible for the repair costs. However, they contended that the curb stop, installed by the city, was the item that broke. "We didn't buy the curb stop. That's our position", Karlinski said.
As council members mulled changing the code or adding a small fee to utility bills to help homeowners pay for curb stop repairs, it came to light that the city had already paid a broken curb stop repair bill for another homeowner this winter.
"It's the same situation. We've got to pay this one," Council member D. Love said. "we had rules in place and we didn't follow the rules."
The city voted to pay up to $10,000 in costs associated with the curb stop failure and driveway repair.
Story by Loretta Harding