Unmetered water use concerns law official

If the water issue is pursued, the law director says law enforcement may be involved.
CORTLAND -- Law Director Patrick Wilson says he personally wants the issue of some homes getting free water to be pursued.
Wilson said Monday that city council will make the ultimate decision on what action, if any, to take.
Council learned at its Aug. 15 meeting that seven houses in the Parade of Homes run by the Home Builders/Remodelers Association of the Mahoning Valley were using water but didn't have meters in them. They were getting water for free because no accounts had been established.
Service Director Don Wittman said Monday the seven houses would all be metered by the end of the day.
At the Aug. 15 city council meeting, lawmakers moved to a second reading a motion that calls for the installation of meters within 30 days of the city making water available to new construction.
Wilson said he will recommend to lawmakers whether the free water situation should be pursued internally or by an outside agency. He did not exclude the possibility of calling in law enforcement if it's done externally.
"I don't want it to linger," Wilson said of the issue.
Use of unmetered water was discussed during an Aug. 18 council executive session. Neither Wittman nor Mayor Curt Moll was invited, but Moll said it's not unusual not to be asked to attend such sessions.
"I have not been aware of any decision made at that meeting," Wittman said.
Last week, Wittman said there was no city policy concerning the installation of water meters. The procedure, however, has been that contractors would inform the city when they wanted the city to install meters.
His concerns
Wittman explained that he became concerned about the lack of an official policy when another house, separate from the Parade of Homes, did not have metered water.
Council President Diana Sweeney disagreed, saying there has been a policy.
Wittman insists he drafted the one to which Sweeney is referring.
Either way -- procedure or policy -- a builder is not permitted to turn on the service line valve at the curb. Instead, the city must be called to install the meter once a building's plumbing is completed.
The procedure points out that those who tamper with a service line valve are violating state law. A violation carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Wittman said he is now using the procedure that he drafted and has included the 30-day timetable in which a meter must be installed after the service line tap-in.

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