Davenport aldermen asked staff for a list of options to deal with residents' complaints of sewer backups across the city from recent floods after hearing a litany of complaints from residents Monday about unreturned phone calls, a lack of information and a slow response to their problems.
The City Council met in a special session to discuss the issue. The city has received 43 claims for damages already this year, and more than 100 requests have been made for documents to file a claim. By comparison, the most claims made for sewer backup in the previous five years was nine in 2011. The most paid out in claims was in 2012 for five.
Options the council could weigh include a backflow prevention program that would increase sewer fees 5 percent on July 1, followed by a 15 percent rate increase on July 1, 2014, as well as an insurance-type program that would pay for $15,000 in damages with a $500 deductible.
Mayor Bill Gluba didn't see much support from aldermen for a rate increase, but he saw more interest in the insurance program.
The meeting also gave residents an opportunity to vent their frustration. Resident Christine Thoeming, who lives near West 57th and Fillmore streets drew the most visceral reaction from alderman as she told how she received little response to her family's plight.
She told aldermen she made a number of calls but received no reply.
"I don't expect the city to put me on hold for two weeks," she said. "I'm a citizen. I pay my taxes. I at least expect a call back."
Aldermen called her experience "unacceptable" and promised to fix the response. Staff from the city's risk management office was at the meeting.
Aldermen and residents also learned the city would be unbolting manhole covers s in some locations to ease pressure on the sanitary and storm sewer system during heavy rains. Public Works Director Mike Clarke didn't know how many manholes will be affected but said several already have been identified.