Hamlet council to provide sewer tap for Juanita Ave. resident

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

See for yourself — minutes from 1994 meetings

HAMLET — During a May 21 budget work session, Hamlet City Council members voted to have city attorney T.C. Morphis Jr. look into drafting a binding agreement for city resident Donald Quick that would pay Quick $1,207 for sewer charges — to a sewer system he never had access to — but absolve the city of any further responsibility.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Donald Quick, 86, of 302 Juanita Ave., Hamlet, says the city owes him more than $4,000 for charging him sewer fees since 1984 for a sewer system to which he's never been connected.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Donald Quick, 86, of 302 Juanita Ave., Hamlet, says the city owes him more than $4,000 for charging him sewer fees since 1984 for a sewer system to which he’s never been connected.

Some 48 hours later, however, acting City Manager Tammy Kirkley was instructed to get a consensus among council members about proving Donald Quick, of 302 Juanita Ave., a sewer tap. Though not a vote, the consensus was split 3-2, with councilmen Pat Preslar and Tony Clewis against the idea. Kirkley said she gathered the consensus by email. Mayor Bill Bayless said Friday evening that Quick will still be responsible for paying the hook-up fee to the city’s sewer line. The tap will be installed at no charge to the resident just as the other taps were installed when the sewer lines were first constructed.

Councilman Eddie Martin said the $1,207 covers the period from 1984 to 1994 when Quick was charged sewer fees without having a tap. He explained that when the city installs a sewer line, it’s up to each resident along that line if they want to hook up to the line or not. Regardless, each household is still charged a minimum sewer charge.

Martin said that in 1994, a South Carolina consultant used an underground camera and city workers dug a nine-foot ditch looking for Quick’s tap. They couldn’t find it — one wasn’t installed when the line was put in place in the early 1980s, a few years before Quick purchased the home.

As Preslar noted May 21, he told The Pee Dee Post again that the city attorney should have the ability to look into the situation before the city moves forward. On May 29, Kirkley said the city is moving forward with both having Morphis review the situation, reimburse Quick the $1,207 and install a sewer tap.

Preslar had good reason to want the attorney-drafted agreement to limit any financial liability to $1,207. Reached May 22 by phone, Quick said the city should pay him for all of the months charged from October 1994 to present — more than $4,000. On Saturday (May 31), Martin said Quick has since reiterated what he wrote to City Council members in a May 5 letter. In that letter, he indicated a willingness to settle for $1,207 — the amount originally promised to him by council members in 1994.

Martin said May 21 that reimbursing the $1,207 was simply a matter of doing the right thing, and following two legal votes council members had put into the public record 20 years ago. On Aug. 9, 1994, minutes of that public meeting show that then council members R.B. Maloney, Jake Covington, Victor Faries, Joey Jernigan and Pete Howe voted 5-0 to reimburse Quick a total of $1,207 for sewer charges from 1984 to 1994.

On Aug. 23, the council discussed the issue but took no action. On Sept. 13, council members voted 4-1, with Howe casting the lone dissenting ballot, to table the issue “until it could be further investigated.”

On Sept. 27, Howe motioned pursuing an easement for a line through a neighbor’s yard but the motion noted that if the pursuit of the easement failed, the city should pay Quick the $1,207. The motion passed with a 4-0 vote, but it was a resolution opposed by Quick himself.

From August to September, it had been discovered that the ground-level floor of Quick’s home could be provided sewer service by the city — which, by city policy, is the only requirement of the city. However, the basement could not. Quick said the basement was a place he spent a lot of his time working in his shop and at the time said he wouldn’t bear the cost of installing a pump. Even then, Faries was concerned about the precedent the city would set by both reimbursing a city resident for sewer fees and providing a sewer tap at no charge to the resident.

In recent days, Preslar expressed the same concerns and wondered about the estimated 30 other homes in similar situations and how much financial liability that could open up the city to face.

“We’re going to set a precedent,” Preslar said. “We’ve opened the door. I was all for closing it the other night.”

Preslar suggested the council’s present course of action was akin to “giving (Quick) a free pass” on a responsibility assumed by every other homeowner in Hamlet. “Everybody else will want a free pass.”

Martin, however, noted that should any other complaints reach City Council that each should be treated on its own merit. If a resident has been unfairly charged, Martin said he’ll favor a reimbursement. If not, Martin said he’ll favor the status quo.

It was on a technical issue Martin tried earlier this month to resolve the issue. He wondered why the council, on Oct. 25, 1994, voted to repeal the council’s prior vote and instead not pay Quick anything. In letters to Quick in the years since that vote, city officials haven’t budged from their position that it’s a homeowner’s responsibility to connect to a sewer tap and that, even if not connected, the city has the authority to charge a minimum monthly sewer fee.

 

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  • Camilla Hudson

    Horse feathers!

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