The Wayland City Commission discussed what members described as a longstanding problem in the city this week — city streets that are damaged by utilities.
On Tuesday, Wayland Commissioner Charles Bentley complained about a hole that he said left a city street near his home impassable for two weeks after the Southern Water and Sewer District repaired a broken water line there. The city recently paved that street, he reported.
“I called the water company, this Thursday will be two weeks ago,” Bentley said. “That Thursday, they come and fixed a leak over on the back alley. They dug the new blacktop up and they left a hole for two weeks ... Now, for some reason today, they came and dumped gravels there to fill the hole up.”
“Wow,” Mayor Jerry Fultz said.
Bentley asked whether the city can do anything about it. He described the hole left in the street as “dangerous.”
“Since they tore it up, it looks like they’d fix it,” he said.
Fultz said the city has faced this problem in the past.
“I think we’ve run into this issue several times, haven’t we, Tyler, trying to get them put back what they tear up. If they tear up concrete, they should put concrete back. If they tear up blacktop, they should put blacktop back. If they dig through the gravel, they should put the gravel back,” Fultz said. “But they tend to put gravel back on everything that they do.”
During this conversation, Bentley also complained about a $122 water bill and he reported that the street has been damaged by water line repairs four or five times. Wayland submitted one of two letters of public comments in the rate case that Southern Water currently has pending with the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
Wayland Commissioner Suzie Mills complained about the same problem on a street near her home during a meeting in September. Fultz said the problem is widespread in the city. When Bentley complained about calling the district four times without getting an answer, Fultz said, “That’s not good. None of that is any good.”
He asked City Attorney Tyler Green to reach out to attorney Stephen Bailey, who represents Southern Water and Sewer District about the problem.
Mills said, “My question is, if you went on their property and done something and didn’t fix it back, what would happen? You’d have to fix it.”
Bentley said he thought the new administrators at Southern Water would do a better job.
“I thought this new bunch, of course, would do a better job than what the old bunch did that they kind of kicked out,” Bentley said. “So, why can’t the new bunch do what they said they was going to do? I ain’t blaming the men over there. They just do what they’re told to do. But the men that run the place, they ought to fix it.”
Fultz said if Southern Water doesn’t have a policy to address this issue, the district needs one.
“It’s just the same thing, over and over with those folks,” he said. “But maybe this new board will address it. Maybe they will address it.”
In March, the Floyd County Fiscal Court approved a resolution requiring all utilities that damage county roads to repairs them.
The resolution puts all utilities “on notice” that if installation or repair of lines near or under a county road damages it, the company is required to “repair and completely fix the road back to the manner it was before the surface was disturbed.” The work is required to be done “within a reasonable timeframe,” the resolution states.
It notes that if a company neglects or refuses to repair the road, the county has the right to make repairs and seek payment from the utility for the work.
“This is a notice to all utility companies. You damage the roads, you’re going to repair the roads, going forward,” Williams said at that meeting. “That’s what this resolution’s for. If there’s asphalt down, you’re going to put asphalt back on the road. If you see anywhere in the county that someone’s doing work, and they tear the road up, they don’t get it repaired, you give us a call and we’ll get that taken care of.”
When asked on Wednesday whether there have been any problems with Southern Water repairing road damages caused by water line leaks since the resolution was approved, Williams responded, “They are doing good.”
Greg May, owner of Utility Management Group, which manages Southern Water, explained that road repairs are among numerous issues that the district is currently working to handle. He said the Wayland street should not have been left as it was described by Bentley, calling it “unacceptable” that a hole was left in the street for two weeks.
May said Southern Water employees have never had the practice of repairing roads that were damaged for water line repairs.
“So, what we’re doing now is we’re making them put them all on work orders, if the job’s not completely done and we have do a work order so the work orders can be followed up on,” May said.
He said that “old habits are hard to break” with some Southern Water employees.
“Now, it’s just, it’s tough to change the attitude or the mindset over what has to be done and how soon it needs to be done,” he said.
He said UMG reached out to a company a couple of weeks ago to inspect patchwork that was needed, but an official there did not get back in touch with him. He said the company is considering seeking another company to do the patchwork.
“We know it’s an issue. We knew it was an issue in the past. We’re just, one day at a time, one issue at a time,” he said.
He said the district does not have a written policy about road repairs, but UMG will continue to train employees on the importance of filling out workorders for road repairs needed.
“It’s just a process, but we’re aware of the issue. We’re trying to correct the issue and it’s all about training these guys and following up,” he said.
Don Compton, who recently resigned from his position as a special projects manager for UMG, reported that the district has been dealing with a “rash” of water leaks, which could be one of the reasons for the problem reported in Wayland.
In other news, the commission also:
•Approved $8,600 in bills and the financial report, showing the city has $40,500 in its road fund and $105,000 in its general fund. City Clerk Sharon Anderson reported that the city audit has been sent from CPA Richard Paulmann to CPA Michael Spears for a peer review.
•Declared a taser and an old laptop used by the police department as surplus, with Commissioner Curtis Lee reporting that the harddrive must be removed from the laptop if it is sold.
•Discussed the need for repairs to several street lights.
•Agreed to donate $150 to the Wayland Fire Department to purchase Halloweeen candy. Trick-or-Treat in Wayland will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31.
•Discussed supplying a dump truck and assistance to residents who want to clean up trash during the Floyd County fall cleanup, which will be held Oct. 25-26.