DADE CITY — City commissioners will offer some financial relief to a resident who unwittingly paid a plumber to repair 10 feet of a city-owned sewer line main near her home.
Juliann Hale paid A.C. Plumbing $1,275 in June to fix the break, which caused a sewage backup in her Southview Avenue home. She subsequently learned that the city was responsible for the line and would have repaired it at no cost to her.
Hale asked the city to reimburse the amount she paid the plumbing company. Last month, the city gave her $250 — the amount public works director Gordon Onderdonk said it would have cost the city in materials to fix the break. Through Commissioner Jimmy Shive, Hale asked the commission to consider covering the remaining amount, or at least half of it.
Commissioners agreed Tuesday to pay Hale $387.50 — half the bill, minus the $250 Hale has already received. Commissioner Bill Dennis initially balked at the payout, saying it wasn't the city's fault the plumber did not consult the public works department before taking on the work, but eventually joined the other commissioners in agreeing to help Hale.
The repair work involved cutting into a sidewalk to dig up the main line, replacing 10 feet of it, and repairing the sidewalk. Onderdonk said he did not believe Hale was the victim of a scam, but of a "snafu" in which the plumber erroneously believed the resident was responsible for the repair.
Mayor Camille Hernandez questioned whether the city needs to make an effort to educate area plumbers about city-owned water and sewer lines. City Manager Billy Poe did not believe such an effort is necessary.
"Ninety-nine percent of plumbers know better," said Poe.