Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30, 2011 What a Waste! (Pun Intended)

If you are on the City of Morristown sewer, you are facing or have already noticed another increase in your sewer rate.  Let's look at one area where the experienced leadership in Morristown City Government has contributed to this mess....

As far back as 2005, the City knew that there were serious odor problems along the Witt sewer line. The City did nothing.

With an arrogant "I'm untouchable" attitude, several of the elected and appointed officials in City government just ignore or plow over people and then say "sue me if you don't like it."

The Witt/Roe Junction residents took the City's "sue me" attitude at face value.  They never wanted to sue the City. In fact, they asked politely and repeatedly for the City to fix the Witt sewer line and stop the overflows so there wouldn't be an expensive lawsuit. The residents' requests fell on deaf ears. 

Only after they were repeatedly ignored by council did the Witt/Roe Junction residents obtain legal counsel and file suit against Koch Foods in 2007 and later against the City of Morristown.

Their attorneys were able to take on City Hall and achieve what the Mayor, City Council, and City Administrators never expected. The residents won. The Witt sewer line will be repaired. The odors will stop.

As of early May 2011, the City was ordered to pay $8,500 to two of the residents.

The City was fined $105,000.

The City was ordered to pay attorney fees of the Witt residents' lawyers totalling around $489,674.00.

Plus the City was ordered to pay the litigation costs of the Plaintiffs close to $56,629.00.

[The City is going on and fixing the sewer line as ordered, but it has decided to spend more money and appeal several issues, such as attorney fees]

The above costs do NOT include the attorney fees that the City has had to pay to its own attorneys.

Originally the City's attorneys were provided by TML (Tennessee Municipal League). Later, the "free" TML legal services were exhausted months ago, however, and the City has now been paying the TML attorney bills, its own attorney's (Dick Jessee) bills, and its other legal expenses.

The City ignored a festering problem and it took an expensive lawsuit plus an Order from a Federal Judge to force the City to make the $1,600,000+ in repairs that should have been made years ago and could have been made years ago for far less.

What a waste of time and taxpayer money. That's a lot of money to spend just to delay making repairs that were inevitable all along. 

And what about the Lakemoore residents who have been ignored by Council for decades despite horrific odors in that area?

If odors and repeated sewage overflows had occurred in the Country Club area, would those citizens' complaints have been ignored by councilmembers?  NO. Would Country Club residents have to get a lawyer to sue the City to get serious health and environmental concerns taken care of?

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