SEBRING — City officials are hoping to prevent a repeat of the situation last year when a company was paid for the maintenance of a water tank that did not get done under a contract that had actually expired in 2009.
When it came to light, some council members voiced unhappiness over how the utilities department was managing the maintenance of the water tanks.
Bob Boggus, who manages Sebring Utilities but was not manager when the problems occurred, said the city began contracting with Utilities Services Co. in 1999 on a 10-year contract.
Utility Services Co. would do the routine maintenance, which included painting the tanks, and would also inspect the tanks, as the city of Sebring doesn’t employ inspectors who can climb on top of the tanks, he said.
The city could not independently confirm the work was being done, Boggus explained.
When it was discovered last year the contract had expired four years earlier, the city put the maintenance of the tanks out for bid, City Administrator Scott Noethlich said.
Noethlich said one bidder discovered that maintenance of the city’s oldest water tank, built in the 1930s, was below the level of what Utility Services had represented to the city.
That was despite the city paying for the work as part of the maintenance agreement, he said.
Boggus said Utility Services told the city — and the city had no reason to believe otherwise — that the work not being done on that tank was a mistake.
“They thought that tank was taken care of,” he said.
Boggus said Utility Services agreed to do the work. The tank was not used for several months because of that, he said.
The other water tanks were in good shape, Boggus said.
In the wake of the situation, the city decided not to enter into a future long-term contract, Boggus said.
The city also wants to hire its own inspector to help determine what work needs to be done and that the work actually gets done, Boggus said.
“We don’t want to get into this situation again,” he said.
Boggus said if the tanks are not properly maintained there could be a failure. The tanks help maintain the water pressure in the system, he said.