Repairing a sewer line can be quite expensive but most homeowners don’t know they’re responsible for the sewer laterals. Repairs can be upwards of $25,000 and most people don’t have that kind of money for repairs and homeowners insurance won’t cover the cost. Some residents near Killeen recently voiced their concerns – and frustrations – about the failing pipes and having to cover the costs after asking the city to completely repair the breaks, some going past property lines into the public right of way. The answer to their concerns? The city of Killeen agreed to set aside approximately $379,000 in its 2019 budget to aid homeowners with pipe failures.
The city is still trying to decide on how the money the money will be used with some suggesting it only covers repairs for homeowners older than 65. Another scenario was to install maintenance lines at the property lines of every home in Killeen. A third scenario included installing “cleanouts” at the property line of every new home that is built and older homes where failures occur, heading off needed maintenance and future repairs. Finally, the council would accept responsibility for repairing lines in the public right of way and outsourcing their repairs and maintenance. All of these come at a cost, most of which are higher, if not significantly higher, than the budgeted $379,000.
Continuing to grow a “contingency” fund for repairs on a discretionary basis would also require more heavy-lifting from the water-sewer fund, which is in stable health but is also a source of funding for the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce and the Killeen Economic Development Corporation.
One of the major problems with determining how much control the city will take on service-line repairs is a lack of research on how other Texas cities manage this problem. Killeen’s policy is pretty much the same as its neighboring cities with some stipulations being offered such as offering aid to homeowners in extraordinary circumstances.
Other cities point homeowners to a collaborative program between the National League of Cities, which represents more than 19,000 municipalities in the U.S., and Service Line Warranties of America to provide insurance for sewer and water service line relocation and repair at a monthly premium. Currently, 35 cities in Texas participate in the national program, which was started in 2010.
Many cities around the nation are in similar situations like Killeen, where nearly 30 percent of homes are more than 39 years old and face an increased risk of service line failure. This is a growing trend of diminishing public funds and aging infrastructures.
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