City of Columbia sued for misuse of water, sewer fees

City of Columbia sued for misuse of water, sewer fees

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After many years of debate, Columbia's practice of redirecting water and sewer revenue is now being tried in the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Since 1993, the City of Columbia has diverted an average of about $4.5 million in water and sewer revenues into other city functions. Now, a group of plaintiffs including businessman and frequent candidate Joe Azar is suing the city for not spending tens of millions of dollars on those systems.

"The water and sewer system is rotting as we know," Azar said. "So many potholes because of pipes bursting and the ground sinking. We many water boils. We're dumping a hundred thousand, million gallons of sewage into the rivers. We're not taking care of it."

As questions arose regarding the transfers, city attorney Mullen Taylor responded by explaining how a 1997 statute seemingly restrains the transfers.

Questions from Chief Justice Jean Toal and the rest of the court aggressively challenged the city's position.

Plaintiffs are seeking a decision that would force the city to end the transfers and send the last three years' worth of revenue, valued at nearly $13 million, back into the water and sewer fund.

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