Benewah County officials responded to city of St. Maries Mayor Tom Carver’s claims that the county owes money for sewer and water systems outside city limits.
Mayor Carver approached the Benewah County Commissioners Monday, October 25, to address the excessive costs, fees and need for repairs on the county’s wastewater system that the city operates.
Mayor Carver said the city has been sending bills to the county regarding the sewer and water system for several years.
“I’d like to see it brought up to date, I know there is a legal aspect,” Mayor Carver said at the meeting. “I know we can probably only go back five years.”
At the meeting Mayor Carver said he had an official bill with him but County Commissioner Phil Lampert said he hadn’t seen the county receive any bills for the water and sewer, only a report.
“This is an official bill right here,” Mayor Carver said. “I’d like to have a check today for $98,000.”
After the commissioner meeting, Lampert again addressed the issue saying he thinks that the city has not sent a single bill for sewer and water over his 10 plus year career as a commissioner.
“(Mayor) Tom was incorrect that the city had sent a bill every year,” Lampert said. “They have never sent us anything other than a yearly report.”
“We have not received anything in the form of an official invoice to be paid,” Lampert continued. “We never got a courtesy call either to let us know that there was any unpaid bills. If the county wasn’t paying a bill I would have liked to know about it.”
When asked about billing records from the city of St. Maries, Deanna Bramblett, Benewah County Clerk, said she also checked the county records and had only found the city had sent reports on the sewer and water to the county.
“I’ve looked and I was unable to find any. However, we have received a couple of reports with some cover letters on them,” Bramblett said. “Nothing that looks like a bill.”
Former county commissioner Jack Buell, who served with the county for decades, said he also couldn’t recall ever receiving a sewer and water bill from past administrations.
“To my knowledge they never sent us a bill, and I would know because I went over the bills with DeeDee (Deanna Bramblett) and if something was iffy, we went over it,” Buell said. “They might have showed us what it was costing them but to my knowledge we never got a bill.”
“We submit a report to them every year on their sewer system,” Mayor Carver said. “This is a bill.”
Lampert said he wants to move forward with the city to have a workshop to discuss ways to alleviate costs of maintaining the system.
“I told Tom at the meeting that he was right that we needed to sit down and figure out a path forward,” Lampert said.
The two entities plan to have a workshop at 9 a.m., November 17, at St. Maries City Hall.