As spring construction season looms and the next phase of cast iron replacement prepares to start, residents that have gone through Phase 1 are complaining to Moose Jaw City Hall. It turns out they've received bills double and even triple what they thought they were going to be.
Shaun Meacher has a home on Keith Crescent and says he signed a contract for a trenchless replacement of his sewer line as part of cast iron replacement on his block but then the bill arrived and was no where close to what it was supposed to be.
"We paid for the trenchless method as part of the LIP but when the LIP was defeated, the information that we were given by the city was that we were charged a certain amount per metre from the footing of the house out to the property line which, based on our quote and documentation previous, was that it was all included."
About a half dozen property owners met with city officials last week with similar problems and some had bills in the $10,000-$12,000 range instead of the $3600 they were quoted by a contractor doing the work.
Meacher believes some of the confusion may come from the referendum on the LIP funding model that happened after the work had already started. He admits that when he went to vote, he was under the impression that if the LIP was defeated then the replacement work would be covered by the city through general taxation. Under that belief, he figured the only bill he would receive would be for the increased service of the trenchless method to replace the pipes on his property that negates the need to dig up the front yard of a property.
Adding to the confusion was the wording on the contract that the residents signed with a third party company doing the work on behalf of the city. Meacher explained the contract said all parts and labour were included in the quote for just shy of $4000, leading him to believe that was the most he'd pay for the work. But that's not all, Meacher went on to say that it took numerous phone calls, emails and finally visits to City Hall in person before anyone could explain why his bill was more than double what the contract said it would be.
Acting City Manager Myron Gulka-Tiechko is reviewing the discrepancies and while he can't say for sure, on the surface it appears the common factor appears to be residents who opted to have the trenchless method.
"Certainly the people who came forward to council, the common element seemed to be the trenchless approach but again, we want to review all of those files and determine if there are issues that need to be clarified or if there are any discrepancies."
As part of his review, all residents who had work done as part of Phase 1 will get a letter asking them to review their bill and get a hold of City Hall is something appears out of sorts. While there's no way to say what will happen when the review is complete, Meacher says better communication between the city and property owners is a must because it shouldn't have taken over a year and a half to find out what their actual bill will be for work done in 2016.