Council opposes sewer policy
The Bath Town Council was clearly upset about the Warm Springs Public Service District’s new policy regarding the definition of an “uninhabitable property.”
At the council meeting on Tuesday, October 2, Mayor Susan Webster said the new policy is unworkable.
The uninhabitable property policy was adopted by the sewer board at the September 12 meeting. It states a dwelling connected to, or near the sewer line, will be billed unless it is declared uninhabitable by the health department or other appropriate agency.
Adopting the policy is the first step in the board’s plan to begin billing vacant structures for sewer services.
“It seems to me if you are going to make a policy that the essence of the policy is to give a property owner an opportunity to get out from under paying for a service that hasn’t been rendered to them, that the process has to be doable,” Webster said.
Councilman Scott Merki agreed. “The Public Service District has got us, because if there is a condemnable property, there is nobody to do it. So they’ll just keep billing,” he said.
“This is an area where the little guy has no ability to defend himself,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Skinner said.
Pratt Street house
In a related matter, Christopher Daily, who is part owner of a home in town on Pratt Street, came before council to ask what can be done about the house which he claims is uninhabitable.
The property is owned by seven family members. Daily inherited his portion of the property from his mother who died last year.
“The property is unsafe and pretty much a hazard to the community,” Daily said. He said the house has never been tested for asbestos or lead paint.
He said he was worried about being at risk for liability and personal injury.
Webster said although she wasn’t a lawyer, she believed the issue is a civil matter between the seven owners.
“Is it a civil matter when you have possible asbestos insulation blowing onto the street 100 feet from the house?” Daily asked.
“As owners of the property, don’t you have some responsibility in looking into this yourselves?” Webster asked back.
Daily said the people living in the house had the permission of one of the owners.
Asked if he had been to the Health Department, Daily said they referred him to the town council.
Councilman Ken Easton said he felt the matter should be taken to Magistrate Court. “We can’t get in the middle of a family issue,” he said.
Webster said the town would get in touch with their attorney to see if there was any way they could help Daily out.
In the meantime, Town Recorder Vince Kidwell volunteered to look into what is involved in setting up a building authority for the town.
Health Dept. view
“There are no regulations that allow the Health Department to declare a private residence uninhabitable,” Morgan County Sanitarian Bruce Ullom told The Morgan Messenger.
Ullom said the only law that applies is the landlord-tenant law and those legal issues are handled in Magistrate Court.