Problems Arise in Sewer District Lawsuit Talks - The Missourian: Local News

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Problems Arise in Sewer District Lawsuit Talks

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Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 8:00 am | Updated: 10:45 am, Fri Feb 28, 2014.

It appears some problems have cropped up with efforts to resolve a lawsuit that the city of Pacific has filed against the Brush Creek Sewer District.

In the lawsuit, Pacific alleges that the sewer district, which is overseen by the three county commissioners, broke a contract.

Franklin County Counselor Mark Vincent announced Tuesday at the end of the county commission meeting that the sewer district recently made an offer to Pacific.

“There’s been some rough roads we’ve had recently on this,” Vincent said.

The sewer district’s proposal included turning over the operation, not the ownership, of the Brush Creek system to Pacific, he said.

The sewer district also offered to pay for alleged damages that have occurred from sewage backups over the last several years. The cost of covering that damage would be about $20,000 to $25,000, Vincent said.

“We’ve agreed to pay that out of district funds,” Vincent said.

In addition, Vincent said an insurance company has offered to pay Pacific $100,000 for attorney fees. But he said Pacific has requested $250,000 in attorneys fees.

“Hopefully we can get those issues behind us and reach a resolution between Brush Creek and the city of Pacific that will allow everybody to go forward in such a way that no drastic action has to be taken by Brush Creek that will affect the users in the future,” Vincent said.

Vincent added, “This is a serious thing for people in the area, but hopefully cooler heads will prevail and we’ll be able to resolve this in the near future.”

Vincent said it is his understanding that Pacific Mayor Herb Adams contacted Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer and First District Commissioner Tim Brinker Monday night.

Vincent said he normally does not like to talk about ongoing litigation, but he said there were some developments that he thinks the citizens should know about.

While the three county commissioners oversee the sewer district, the district is considered a separate entity from Franklin County.

Griesheimer serves as the sewer district president. He declined to speak to a reporter after Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

Adams could not be reached for comment.

Lawsuit

Pacific’s lawsuit alleges that the sewer district breached the contract by exceeding the amount of sewage discharge that is allowed to be sent to Pacific’s wastewater treatment plant under the contract.

Pacific says the district is only allowed to discharge 200,000 gallons per day into the city treatment plant and that the district has gone over that amount numerous times.

This has resulted in sewage backing up into some Pacific residents’ basements, Pacific City Administrator Harold Selby has said. It has also placed stress on the city’s system, Pacific alleges in the lawsuit.

But Vincent has said there is no evidence to suggest that the sewer district’s discharges have damaged Pacific’s plant in any way.

Infiltration problems in the Brush Creek sewer system have allowed rainwater to enter the pipes, Selby has said. This has reportedly increased the amount of discharge that is sent to Pacific’s wastewater treatment plant.

Sewer District in Debt to County

The county has had to bail out the financially struggling sewer district with loans The sewer district currently owes the county $199,500, according to Deputy County Clerk Kathy Hardemann.

The sewer district also raised rates last year to address revenue problems.

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