Zephyrhills Free Press

Down The Drain

City Denies Request To Take Over Contractor’s Sewer Lift Station Maintenance

Zephyrhills City Council faced a dilemma Monday night and chose not to open a “Pandora’s Box” of sewer issues Monday night.

Zephyrhills resident and contractor Wayne Butterfield, who build a pair of triplex housing units 18 months ago, had to build a lift station for the buildings to pump into the city sewer station. He had another option that would have been difficult, so he spent the $21,000 on the lift station.

Monday, he asked the city to take over the lift station maintenance. His request comes on the heels of discovering a potential third option of being able to tie to the city’s system through a gravity line, making the lift station unnecessary.

His argument was that if the third option was made available to him 18 months ago, he wouldn’t have built the lift station and spent the $21,000.

Zephyrhills City Manager Billy Poe recommended to council that it not take over ownership and the maintenance of the lift station, because the third option was not determined by a construction engineer on Butterfield’s project at the time the buildings were built.

“That was an investigation that should have happened a year and a half ago and not today,” Poe said. “The staff recommendation is to not to take over the lift station.”

Poe also expressed to council that if approving Butterfield’s request would set a precedent and owners of the other 23 private lift stations would arrive at City Hall asking the city the same thing. He noted that the city utilities department has upgraded all of the city-owned lift stations and it would cost $175,000 to update Butterfield’s lift station to city standards.

Zephyrhills City Council president Charlie Proctor appeared to be in Butterfield’s corner along with councilman Alan Knight. When it came down to make a decision, Knight made the motion for the city to take over Butterfield’s lift station, but it died for the lack of a second. Proctor could not second the motion as council president. Council members Ken Burgess, Lance Smith and Jodi Wilkeson would not second the motion.

“The limit we have if we say yes, and we want to say yes, is that now with 22 or 23 other people will come to the city and say, “hey, we don’t want to take care of our lift station. We want the city to take it over.”

“For us, it opens up a Pandora’s Box that I’m not prepared to do even though I want to help you.”

It was determined that one issue for Butterfield is that he cannot sell just one of the triplex units because they are both attached to the on lift station. If he sells them in the future, he will have to sell both or form some kind of homeowner’s association.

Butterfield said there was no existing agreement that the city would take over the lift station.

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