City Councilman Vince Riggi is suing the city he represents.
He wants $3,100 for a water main repair he says was the city’s fault.
The City Council will consider the issue behind closed doors Monday night. All claims filed against the city are discussed behind closed doors, but Riggi has spoken openly about it at council meetings and provided a copy of his claim to The Daily Gazette.
He said he hesitated to file the claim because of his position.
“I know politically it doesn’t look good,” he said.
But he decided it wasn’t fair to “give the city the gift” of his money, he said.
“I had to take money out of my IRA for that. I don’t have that kind of money,” he said. “I don’t want to be treated any different. I pay my water bill, and this is their responsibility.”
The incident began Sept. 30, when water pressure suddenly dropped in Riggi’s house. He called Deputy Director of Water and Wastewater Paul Lafond, who said the issue could be the city’s fault, Riggi said.
“But there’s no way of knowing until you dig up the street,” he said.
So he hired a plumber, who dug up the pipe and found that the valve attached to the water main was clogged and leaking. That valve is the city’s responsibility, and the city replaced the item.
And that’s when things got murky. Riggi said the city workers told him he had to have his 3⁄4-inch lateral water pipe replaced because city code calls for all laterals to be at least 1 inch in diameter.
Riggi protested, saying his lateral was in good shape. City workers even allowed him to hook his lateral to the new valve while they ordered other parts needed for the new lateral installation.
“It worked fine,” Riggi said.
He asked Corporation Counsel John Polster about the code, and after his plumber had finished the lateral replacement, he said Polster called him.
“Polster said, ‘It’s so ambiguous I’d never be able to argue this before a judge,’ ” Riggi said.
He added that Polster seemed to think there was no clear rule requiring 1-inch laterals.
“They ordered me to replace a perfectly good lateral,” Riggi said.
He wants his money back, but he also wants to change the code so no one else is forced to replace a working lateral.
“How many other people has this happened to?” he said.
City officials declined to comment on the claim until the City Council makes a decision on the issue.