Mayor: Water meter claims will be paid

Published 8:18 pm Saturday, June 20, 2015

The installation of new water meters caused damage to some homes in Selma, and Selma Water Works is trying to make sure people that filed claims with the department are compensated.

During Saturday’s work session, council members asked Mayor George Evans, who serves as the superintendent for the water board, if citizens can expect their claims to be paid anytime soon.

“The board has already agreed to pay the claims. They are just referring those claims to the contracting company who actually put the meters in,” Evans said. “They are holding them responsible for the claims being paid. The contracting company has verbally agreed to pay those claims.”

Email newsletter signup

Evans said more than $20,000 worth of damage was done when meters were installed over the last year.

The meters were furnished by Consolidated Pipe and Supply, of Tallassee, and installed by Mitchell’s Contracting, based in Wilcox County. Evans said the majority of claims concerned water damage due to pipes that busted after the meters were installed.

“People filed claims based on busted pipes that may have busted inside their homes that may have caused water damage to carpet and things like that,” Evans said. “Claims were also based on hot water heaters bursting and popping that need to be replaced.”

Councilman Cecil Williamson said he has received calls from people asking when they can expect their claims to be paid. Evans didn’t have a timetable on when they would but did explain where the board is at in the process.

“At this point it is in the hands of our lawyer, their lawyer and the insurance company to resolve the litigation from the standpoint of when they will be paid,” Evans said.

Evans said he is asking people to be patient with the process.

“I know they have been patient already; however, when you’re going through legal matters sometimes it takes longer,” Evans said.

“[The board] wants to do it right so there won’t be any backup claims later on. Litigation takes time, so we ask them to be confident that they will get their money.”

Evans also said the installation of the meters was not completed. He said there at least 500 that have yet to be installed due to the water board ending the contract with the installation company.

“The decision to terminate the contract was based on claims and who was at fault, whether it was the contractor or the citizens,” Evans said. “It came as a result of everybody blaming everybody else and because we couldn’t get some clarification.”

Evans said the decision to end the contract was also based on more water meters being ordered than were agreed on.

Selma Water Works will finish the installation process.

“The board chose to end the contract with the company with the understanding that the water works department would eventually install the additional meters as time permits,” Evans said. “The water board will have the installation of the water meters finished within the next few months.”

The project, which included more than 7,000 new meters, was paid for through a $2.56 million loan from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Half of the loan, which is around $1.8 million, won’t have to be paid back because it functions like a grant.