Resident pays $3,000 to clean sewage-filled basement; city could have split costs -

Resident pays $3,000 to clean sewage-filled basement; city could have split costs

ST. LOUIS ( -- With a basement full of sewage a south St Louis homeowner did what she thought was best to take care of the problem; paying nearly $3,000 for a fix only to find out later the city could have paid part of the cost.

News 4 found out what residents need to know so they don’t lose money.

There was a break in the sewer line, part of which was under city property.

City would have paid for a chunk of this repair, but Shelby Hileman didn’t know until it was too late.

With sewage seeping into the basement, she had to act fast. Hileman says she started making calls right away.

The first serviceman determined it wasn’t a clogged drain.

“This was $325,” she said.

A 2nd contractor arrived and hired a third to dig up the sewer line break.

“This is $2,600,” she added. It added up to $2,925.

But, the break was under a public easement. The city does have a reimbursement plan, but Streets Director Todd Waelterman says it not as simple as walking in and walking out with cash.

“We have a process,” said Waelterman. “We work for the government and we’re accountable to all the people. Everything we do is done through a competitive bid process.  We can’t just write a check to someone and say that’s good.”

Waelterman also says contractors should know not to start the work if there’s a chance it’s on city property until the city signs off.

“One of these [contractors] I’d have hoped would have stepped up,” said Waelterman. “But it was obvious to me they thought they could do the work.”

One contractor says he tried calling the city. He says he wasn’t sure if the property is public because it’s in Hileman’s fenced-in yard, covered in grass.

“All I worried about was getting it taken care of and getting the stuff out of there,” the contractor said.

It is taken care of, but bottom line: Hileman paid $3,000 when she should have only had to pay around $1,500.


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