City’s payment of $3,896.36 not admission of fault for flooding
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Five of the six Rhinelander City Council members present for Monday’s meeting agreed to pay $3,869.36 for the dumpster service provided by the city to help with the cleanup of the State Theater at 110 N. Brown St., where flooding was reported last summer while work on Rhinelander’s downtown Streetscape project took place.
“We agreed with the owners of the property to assist in this capacity,” said public works director Tim Kingman. “It was a special cost that went beyond the scope of work we had on the project.”
However, in doing so, the city is not taking responsibility for being at fault for the flooding.
“At the (Water/Wastewater) Committee meeting (March 6), we requested that the city attorney (Carrie Miljevich) check with the attorney for the city through the insurance company,” said interim city administrator Keith Kost. “She did that. She emailed me, and the attorney representing the city says it is OK to pay the bill without any negative effect.”
Rouman Amusement filed a lawsuit, in which the city was named as a defendant, after the vacant theater building experienced what property owner George Rouman stated to the committee in November was a “tremendous amount of flooding” in the rear basement while the construction was going on nearby.
At that meeting, Kingman pointed out water produced by a big rain storm had gotten into the back side of the theater.
After the flooding occurred, Kingman said the city and the contractor were at the theater to document what happened. However, he noted each one of the insurance agents involved in the matter favored denying the claim.
Rouman told the committee the theater was unable to have the related cleanup covered by its own insurance company, which claimed a “technical exemption” for flooding that the theater didn’t have insurance. He said price quotes he obtained to remedy the related damage came to more than $100,000.
The lone council member who dissented on the vote to pay for the dumpster service, Mark Pelletier, had stated at the March 6 committee meeting that he didn’t want to commit the city to being at fault by “doing a good deed” and noted another party that would be found responsible for the damages to the theater could end up having to repay the city for the use of the dumpster.