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St. Mary Deals With Water Bills


Two residents complaining about abnormally high sewer and water bills due to leaks took up much of last Thursday’s St. Mary Board of Aldermen meeting.

Francois Frelix-Vann had sent a letter to the board about a water leak she incurred and wanted to get the sewer portion of her bill adjusted. 

Mayor Carl Wyatt asked if the water leak was inside or outside the house and no action can be taken  until that is determined. Police chief Adam Bequette said the leak was outside the house and that it occurred because she was the victim of an attack on her and her property and the water line was broken at that time.

“The only thing we can adjust is the sewer part,” Wyatt said, noting that city ordinance does not allow water bills to be adjusted.

It was agreed to adjust the sewer portion of her bill to her average since the water did not go down into our sewer system.

Randy McKlin then addressed the board about a bill he received from the city for $2,336.09.

During the February cold spell, his water meter froze and broke, then began leaking.

McKlin and Wyatt could not agree on how long it took McKlin to try and inform the city, so water could be shut off.

He and the Mayor got into a heated discussion about how many days the leak occurred, if McKlin was out of town or not, who did he try to call to inform the city once he discovered the leak.

Alderman Ron Barnett, who lives nearby, told McKlin he should have informed him.

Wyatt stressed that the city buys its water and has to pay for water used. Therefore it cannot forgive water usage bills. He said the city lost some 165,000 gallons of water during that February cold snap.

He said four others in town had frozen meters that busted and each had them repaired.

Alderman Dr. Zen Duda wondered whether there was some way they could inform citizens on how they should maintain their water meters – mainly be putting a heating light on them during especially cold spells.

Wyatt reiterated that the water meters are the residents’ responsibility.

“We don’t install the meters; the contractor does when the house is built,” he said.

Duda suggested McKlin contact his telephone provider and get a “time line” of when he called the city, etc, and present it as evidence prior to the August board meeting.