Kirkland ups compensation for sewer mess

Meaney announces that he plans to seek re-election as mayor

By Robert Frank

After years of acrimony, Kirkland city council has decided to offer up to $5,000 to residents whose household water and sewage pipes were misconnected, two decades ago.

Councilor Domenico Zito read a statement at the end of the July 9 city council meeting, outlining Kirkland’s aim to be free of misconnected pipes by the end of 2012.

Director general Joe Sanalitro told citizens who attended the council meeting that residents who accepted the city’s previous offer of $1,800 last year would also be eligible to claim the increased amount for eligible expenses.

Kirkland council meetings have long been marred by hordes of angry citizens, who contended that the city had previously helped residents to deal with the financial aftermath of remedying the misconnected pipes.

Sanalitro told The Suburban that, as a result, he and members of Kirkland’s technical and legal departments scoured almost thirty years worth of city files to find whether there were any documents that would substantiate these citizens’ claims.

“In wanting fairness for all residents, ethically, morally and financially, we decided to provide up to $5,000 for the plumbing inside, and any work repairing outside like new landscaping, replacing a trench or unistone that was displaced during the repairs,” Sanalitro added.

“We want to be reasonable as possible, even though the city’s legal responsibilities have not changed, as the resident is still responsible for the work.”

Mayor John W. Meaney explained that the city was offering “environmental” assistance, to the extent permitted by law. He said that without evidence of the precedent, which Sanalitro’s team unearthed, the city would have been unable to increase its compensation offer.

While responding to a citizen’s question near the end of the city council meeting, Mayor Meaney added that he plans to seek re-election the next time Kirkland citizens go to the polls.

— with files from Kevin Woodhouse

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