Landlords seek reimbursement of tenant losses from sewer back up

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By Becky Barnes

By Becky Barnes, Editor

Landlords Willie Smith and Jeff Hopkins would like to recoup their losses and those of their tenants from the city.

Smith told commissioners Tuesday night that he and Hopkins recovered $11,094 from their insurance company after a sewer back-up into their Second Street property on Jan. 10.

Tenants, who lost much of their belongings when the sewer backed up several inches into their apartments, said their renters insurance did not cover their losses stating that the tenant should not be responsible for sewer back-up.

Temple Juett, an attorney for the League of Cities, the citys insurance carrier, said the city is not responsible either.

Although city advisor Kenneth York acknowledged that two root blockages were found at the 201 Second Street sewer line, Juett said the city was not negligent in its maintenance of the line and that it was denying the claim.

York said the line was rodded out six months prior to the incident.

Smith contended that this was not the first incident.

When are we going to do something about this to keep it from happening again? Smith asked.

Juett asked why the other houses in the area had not suffered the same losses.

Smith said his house was the first in line beyond the blockage and therefore it served as a vent for the overflow and it took the full force of the backup.

Smith said he would like for the city to move the line. However, he received no answer.

Smith also said he had a study to share with commissioners and that he would like to do so in closed session.

City attorney John Lair advised that it was unlikely that would qualify for closing a session and agreed to look at the study while the rest of the meeting was conducted.

Smith, Hopkins and Lair went into the hallway to discuss Smiths report.

However, when they returned, the meeting had adjourned without any resolution to the landlords requests.

In other business, the commission:

Hired Amanda Mudd as a full-time certified telecommunicator for E-911.

Hired Jeremy Hill as a full-time firefighter.

Accepted the resignation of telecommunicator James Jones.

Agreed to make offers of employment to two certified firefighters and a certified police officer.

Heard Commissioner James Martin report that the first Wednesday siren testing was to be conducted Feb. 13. He said it was scheduled to occur last week, but because of having sounded it in the early hours for the tornado, the test was suspended.

Heard Commissioner Jack Keith report that bids for a storage building at the new waste water treatment plant came in too high. Resubmitted bids came in $22,000 less than the initial bids. Intech Contracting was awarded the bid for $149,600.

Heard Commissioner Jimmy New report that the citys chipper would continue to operate during storm clean-up.

Mayor Jim Brown suggested that the citys four-inch restriction on limbs be lifted for storm debris. However, this will apply only to residential and not commercial cleanup.

Brown added that Jailer Larry Turner is working to provide inmates to assist with some of the debris removal.

Endorsed the appointment of Paula Taylor to the Blue Grass Area Development District Board. Her term will expire Jan. 30, 2011.

Heard Brown read a letter from superintendent of Harrison County Schools Dr. Roy Woodward, who praised the citys staff for their quick response after the Feb. 6 tornado.