12 News Investigates: Solutions for sewer tap repair fees

12 News Investigates

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In an earlier 12 News Investigates, we told you about a Jackson woman who was shocked to find out she had to pay for sewer work outside of her home in the street. The city used to pay for some sewer tap repair fees for homeowners, but they do not anymore.

12 News found some possible solutions for the homeowner. It was an expensive job for Mandy Bufkin’s sewer tap to be replaced. The sewer tap connects the homeowner’s line to the city’s sewer line. 

Bufkin said, “They have to dig up the street, fix the issue, and repave the street. So all of that was coming out of my pocket, and so whenever I talked to the sewer and water department, they said no we can’t fix or pay for any of it. There’s no reimbursement for any of it. So I called my city councilwoman, and when they got back to me, they gave me the same answer. Basically saying, ‘I’m so sorry, but there’s nothing we could do. We used to reimburse people for that, but we no longer do that.'”

Bufkin paid more than $8,000 for the repair. 12 News asked lawyers about this situation, and they said the city doesn’t have to make the repairs.

“The main sewer line that the city is responsible for if it actually failed and created the failure in the sewer tap, then you could potentially have that legal liability transferred to the city, because it was the failure of their line that created the failure of the sewer tap which would normally fall on the homeowner,” said Patrick Wooten, Chief Operating Officer & Managing Partner, Richard Schwartz & Associates.

Richard Schwartz offered some possible solutions.

“While this water is running, you’re still getting billed for it. Under city ordinance 122-40, you have an administrative right to contest the bill. So if you go over to city ordinance 122-40, and follow those guidelines, you may be able to contest the billing while it’s been leaking,” said Schwartz, the owner of the firm.

He also recommended Bufkin check her homeowner’s insurance to see if she can get reimbursed for the money she spent.

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