GARRETT — The City of Garrett took the first step to outline customer responsibilities when it comes to repairing or replacing faulty water lines.

The city is also seeking answers to ongoing issues of dumping at the recycling bins outside of the street department building.

At its June 15 meeting, the Garrett Common Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that spells about those responsibilities.

City Attorney Dan Brinkerhoff said the measure is in the best interests of both the water utility and customers, providing a process to identify leaks between the curb and home as the responsibility of the homeowner.

The ordinance allows the city to enter the premises to inspect a leak, if suspected. If the homeowner does not allow the city on site, water service to the home could be shut off.

Once a leak is determined, a written notice will be given to the property owner, giving 45 days to make repairs. The customer should be able to show substantial progress in completion of repair within 21 days after notice is given.

The complete cost of repair is the responsibility of the property owner. Under the ordinance, if repair is not completed within 45 days after notice is served, the city can shut off the customer’s water service.

In the event water service is cut off for failure to abide by the ordinance, the city can impose a $10 per-day fine until the repair has been made to the satisfaction of the water utility before water service will be resumed.

Councilman Bobby Diederich asked why the ordinance is needed after 140 years. Councilman Tom Kleeman said it would give authority to any customer challenging repair of a water leak.

In case a customer has hired a contractor to do the work and it extends past 45 days, the city has discretion regarding fines and shut-offs.

In other business, Diederich complained about people dumping all sorts of trash outside the recycling bins on East Quincy Street, including large boxes, sofas, furnishings and other household refuse.

“Something must be done. It’s getting way out of hand,” he said, suggesting signage or a surveillance camera might help the situation. “I would love to have them taken out.”

Councilwoman Amanda Charles said Auburn has the same situation at its recycling site.

“It’s sad when we are offering the community a benefit,” Councilman Todd Sattison added.

Brinkerhoff said there would be a cost to enact an ordinance, and by attending meetings in other communities, he has learned there is a growing consensus to do away with recycling bins that “are turning into open-air dumps.”

By closing down the 24-hour site, people could use the drive-through recycling center in Garrett, which has seen dwindling activity since the bins were installed.

The city will be inviting bids for its trash collection contract in the coming weeks, Clerk-Treasurer Marcie Conkle said. The current contract with Republic Services expires at the end of the year. Curbside recycling service will be considered as one of the bid options.

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