War of words heats up between state auditor and MSD

Is the Metropolitan Sewer District trampling on the rights of homeowners? Or is a powerful politician trying to get special treatment?

A war of words is bubbling over between the sewer district and Missouri's state auditor that could ultimately impact your home and wallet.

There are 106,000 older homes in St. Louis County that have spouts and gutters connected directly to the sewer system. State Auditor Tom Schweich is one of those homeowners.

The work is part of a $4.7 billion project that will take two decades to complete and your tax dollars are paying for part of the work.

When Schweich received the letter, he followed up with phone calls and eventually meetings to better understand what was being asked. After the meetings Schweich detailed to NewsChannel 5 why he couldn't sign the contract MSD was proposing.

"This is an example of government that tramples on the rights of property owners, thinks that everything has to be done their way, and doesn't have to negotiate any compromise when they are going to do a major disruption to their property," Schweich said.

Lance LeComb, spokesperson for MSD could not disagree more.

"He goes to the media proactively, and starts wrapping this in the aura of big government, during an election year, bottom line, we don't want a part of his politics. What we want is protect our customers from basement backups and sewer overflows and his home right now is contributing to that and we are offering to pay to make that stop," he said.

Schweich says he'll agree to do his part, if MSD will provide a three year warranty of their contractor's work. He is also concerned about the sub contrators who will have to come into his home. He worries about security and wants to make sure the workers are not only bonded but that someone he trusts is present when they are there.

"They said we will not do that. We would have to do that for everybody. I said you should do that for everybody. Everybody should have a warranty when work is done on their house," Schweich said.

The third complaint from Schweich has to do with his driveway. Work will cause MSD to tear up two sections of it. The district will fix what they damage but Schweich says that will cause the driveway to look like a mismatched patchwork. Schweich offered to contribute $2,500 of the estimated $15,000 replacement cost.

MSD says it's not going to happen.

"Bottom line; his home is contributing to basement backups. His home is impacting our customers and we need to protet our customers. We are willing to pay for that but we are not going to be strong armed into giving him things he wants but we are not able to give other customers," Lecomb said.

Schweich sent a letter to MSD agreeing to allow the repairs under three conditions and he says he's willing to work out a compromise.

MSD says it's contacted 80,000 homeowners and only one is making these types of demands.

To read the letter sent by MSD, and the amended contract Schweich is willing to sign, click here:

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