Water line shutoff causes debate in City Council meeting
Credit union representative argues city should pay for water line connection
Craig — Providing a water service line to the Moffat County Schools Federal Credit Union should be the responsibility of the city, Credit Union Treasurer Linda Osborn said, but the Craig City Council disagreed.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, City Council members agreed officials made the correct decision when they disconnected the lot’s water line from the main. Councilors also agreed property owners were properly informed of the disconnection.
Three parties purchased the property on 585 Tucker St. in 1979 with an existing water tap and service line. The site is the same property the credit union purchased to build its new office.
The property was vacant in the early 1990s when the city replaced the water main on Tucker Street. The decision was made not to hook up the old service lines in compliance with city code which states “whenever any building is removed or a service line is discontinued, the existing service line shall be disconnected at the main.”
In a letter to Council members, the former property owners stated “from the date of the purchase to the date of the sale, the undersigned parties were never asked, agreed to or requested that the existing water line to the property be removed or abandoned. If such line was removed at the time of the water line replacement, it was done without our knowledge or consent.”
“My contention is landowners should know this before the city goes and does it,” Osborn said.
According to City Water/Wastewater Department Supervisor Joe Theaman, the city never hooks up lines to abandoned property for safety reasons. There is a chance a backhoe or other equipment could hit the line and break it, causing problems for a neighborhood and putting strain on the entire system.
“You never want to leave a live line at a vacant lot,” he said. “It gets rid of a lot of potential problems.”
Theaman said there are hundreds of property owners who do not have a service connection because the lot is vacant and the department never contacts the owner directly.
City Manager Jim Ferree said there are several different sizes of line, and different businesses or residences require different hookups.
“When we look at abandondoned property, you’re not sure what kind of service that property will need in the future,” he said.
Osborn thought the city should be responsible for digging up and reconnecting the service line because it never notified the property owners that service would be disconnected.
City officials said a statement on the property tax certificate qualifies as notification. The tax certificate for this site states, “Our records indicate that there is no current service at the above listed property. Tap fees have been paid.”
“I thought that meant the fees had been paid and there was no water because it wasn’t needed. I didn’t know it meant we had been disconnected from the main,” Osborn said. “We feel that the city made an assumption that the property was never going to be used and passed us by.”
Tap fees, Councilor Bill Johnston clarified, means a resident has the right to tap into the water main, it does not necessarily mean the hardware is there.
“You still have to pay for the service line,” City Attorney Sherman Romney said. “You’re still responsible for getting the water from the main to the structure.”
This year, a handful of Moffat County High School graduates are setting out to carry on the family tradition. From business to education, these students plan to follow in the footsteps their parents and in some cases, grandparents and great-grandparents.