November 19, 2010
MINUTES OF THE BROOKNEAL TOWN COUNCIL

7:00 PM – A special meeting was called by Physical Development Committee Chairperson James Nowlin for the purpose of discussing the claim from Mr. and Mrs. Graham Jones concerning the sewer incident that happened on their property on September 30, 2010.

 

The municipal government of the Town of Brookneal met with the following members present:

 

Phyllis Campbell, Mayor

James Nowlin, Vice Mayor

Robert Jean, Richard Adams, Tracy Meisenbach and Kenneth Jennings, Council Members

Bobbie Waller, Clerk/Treasurer

Mike Crews, Public Works Director

 

 

Mayor Campbell told the Council that as of November 16, 2010, in a letter from Scott Martin at VML Insurance that an offer had been made to the Jones’ to conclude their claim.  As of today, the release from the offer has not been signed by the Jones’.  Mr. Nowlin clarified that once the release is signed, another check for approximately $10,000 will be mailed to the Jones’.  The balance of the claim is $6,281.77 which is what the Jones’ have requested the Town pay.  Mr. Nowlin said that when the committee met that Councilperson Meisenbach was in favor of paying the Jones, but he was not.  He said that he was going to put the issue to the Council for discussion.  He said that he believed that our insurance company needed to handle this issue until it is over and a release from them has been received.

 

Councilperson Jean said he believed the insurance company has been very reasonable, and he did not see why the Jones’ think that nothing should be depreciated.  He also said that the Council can not set that precedence; we have to let the insurance company handle it.  He said if they are not satisfied with what the insurance company offers, then they need to take it up with the insurance company.

 

Councilperson Adams said this has been a tough decision, and he has known the Jones family for a long time.  He said that in talking with two different insurance companies and two different town managers, and one insurance attorney that as long as this thing is with the insurance company the Jones family should negotiate with the insurance company and not with the Town.

 

Councilperson Jennings said that since the Town pays a fee to Virginia Municipal League who represents every entity and Town in this state, we need to let them handle and negotiate with the Jones.  He said that the Town does not need to supersede those decisions.  He said he did not want to see a precedence set, so that the Town would be responsible for each and every piece of damage that happens to a person’s property.  The Town could not survive if it set that precedence.

 

Councilperson Meisenbach said upon reading the letter from the Town of Gretna concerning their findings that the letter does speak of negligence when there are root masses in a line every 4 feet.  She said she went back through the Town minutes for 8 years, and no where in the Town minutes for 8 years in any public works report is there any mention of any type of maintenance of any kind (except for smoke tests) on these lines.  She said nobody has run anything up these lines or poured in root killer.  She said she disagreed on the negligence part.  She said the Jones’ are looking for the final figure, the $6,281.77, which they believe occurred because the Town has not been keeping the lines cleared out.  She said that she understood in talking to other community entities that no community ever wants to set any type of precedent.  She said this letter (from the Town of Gretna) alone sitting in court would cause the Town some trouble.  Mr. Nowlin said that the Council understands what she is saying, but he did not feel like they needed a lecture.  Ms. Meisenbach said she wanted her opinion on tape.  She said she felt the Town was responsible in this incident.  Ms. Meisenbach made the motion to pay the $6,281.77 that the Jones requested.  No second was made.

 

Mr. Jean said that he felt the Jones’ loss has been covered sufficiently.  Mr. Jennings addressed Ms. Meisenbach that she was missing the point that the Virginia Municipal League is the Town’s representative.  He said at no point is the Town and the Jones’ at odds.  If there is a negligence charge put upon the Town, the Virginia Municipal League will assess that also.  He said he represented the Town of Brookneal, and for a council person to cross the line and decide they are going to represent personal entities within the Town is not a good policy.  He said that all Council members sitting here have a certain empathy or sympathy for the Jones’.  He said Virginia Municipal League has been found to be very responsible, and they meet the regulations and obligations of the citizens of the state of Virginia.

 

Ms. Meisenbach noted that we don’t have any guesstimate on future claims.  She said if you looked at the damage on the brickwork of that house that could cause them problems for years down the road.  She said it could cause foundation issues and a lot of trouble that they could come back on.  Mr. Nowlin asked how she could tell by looking at a picture of the house that they were going to have future problems.  Mr. Nowlin said that we did not need to go through all these issues.  Mayor Campbell asked again for a second to Ms. Meisenbach’s motion to which there was none.  The motion therefore died.

 

Mr. Adams noted and wanted to reiterate that this is a matter between VML and the Jones’ not the Town and the Jones.

 

 

ADJOURNMENT

Upon motion from Robert Jean, seconded by James Nowlin, and unanimously carried, Mayor Campbell announced that the November 19, 2010, called Council meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

 

___________________________                  ____________________________

Bobbie A. Waller                                             Phyllis L. Campbell

Clerk/Treasurer                                               Mayor

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