Columbus denies extra bill relief

Published 9:50 pm Monday, October 21, 2019

Milliken asked for relief on sewer bill following water leak

COLUMBUS—Milliken will not be getting any further relief from the Town of Columbus after a water leak caused an $82,890 bill that the town already adjusted down to $19,388. 

Columbus Town Council met Thursday and heard from town manager Tim Barth about what adjustments were already given to the Hatch plant. 

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Barth said Milliken suffered about a 3 million gallon leak at their facility recently. He said when someone has a leak the town typically credits them 75 percent of the costs. With the bill being almost $83,000, Barth said the town adjusted the bill down to $19,388. Plant officials asked that the town also adjust the sewer bill down to 25 percent. 

“I told them we have credited your account like we do for everybody in the town,” Barth told council. 

The town’s policy is that every customer gets two adjustments per year for a leak with the town taking off 75 percent and the customer only paying 25 percent in case of a leak. 

Milliken & Company Operations Sourcing Vice President Daniel Sistrunk wrote the town asking for relief of the sewer bill. 

“As you are aware, we recently had a breach of the pipe that feeds our facility and for some unexplainable reason did not see the pressure drop at the plant which would have alerted us to an issue,” Sistrunk said. “This allowed for an extended time that water was allowed to flow back into the nearby creek without our knowledge. Upon realization of the issue the pipe was immediately repaired so no further leakage could occur.” 

Sistrunk said Milliken was asking for consideration by the town since the water did not enter the town’s sewer system or storm water system that the sewer charges be removed and the penalty be charged on the incoming water only. The sewer charge was $37,0120. Sistrunk asked that the sewer portion of the bill be capped at $10,000. 

“We understand this is a large ‘ask’ of the town but also hope our long-standing presence in the community can be factored into the decision,” Sistrunk said. “We also ask that consideration be given for the expansion that we are currently performing at the plant which will increase production by approximately 25 percent and positively benefit the city in both labor, taxes and increased services usage.” 

Councilman Robert Williamson said he does not see any reason to side step a town policy, and other council members agreed. 

Columbus Mayor Eric McIntyre said it is hard for him to give credit to a business that is not in city limits when the town would not do it for an in town resident or business. 

“75 percent of what should have been billed is a pretty good deal,” McIntyre said. “I’m not going to tell everybody in the town they are less important than Milliken.” 

Barth said once the meter was read the town told Milliken they had a leak and it took them three days to find it. 

Council unanimously denied the request for relief.