Manitou councilwoman says she was told to keep quiet after City sticks $80k sewage backup cost to elderly homeowner 

Posted at 12:29 AM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2018-08-09 02:31:45-04

Back in May, News 5 Investigates aired a story about an elderly woman who owes tens of thousands of dollars in clean up costs and restoration fees after the city’s main sewer line backed up and poured sewage into her furnished basement.

Homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that connects from their property to the main sewer line. However, the sewer backup that occurred in Barbara Shepard’s basement stemmed from a clogged line the city maintains and cleans.

According to city records, the backup occurred as a result of someone flushing towel wipes down the drain, along with a tree root. Both were found in the main line.

Shepard, 85, filed a claim for compensation with the city that was denied. The city says they are exempt under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. The Act protects government entities from being held liable in many situations such as damage resulting from potholes or sewer problems.

Officials in Manitou Springs declined to explain the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act and how it applied to this particular case.

News 5 Investigates decided to reach out to elected leaders for answers including Mayor Nicole Nicoletta and Councilwoman Coreen Toll, whose district covers Shepard’s neighborhood.

Mayor Nicoletta never responded to our requests to discuss Shepard’s case. Two emails sent to her work email address went unanswered.

“Per the City’s legal Counsel I have no comment at this time,” Councilwoman Toll said in an email. “I have been advised that this type of matter may be subject to future legal action. As a matter of course, these incidents often involve extenuating circumstances that I am not informed about in the regular course of my duties as an elected official. Rather than speak from an uninformed perspective and complicate matters further for the City, I shall remain mute.”

Since the claim Shepard filed was denied, she can pay and file paperwork to take the City of Manitou Springs to court.

Shepard says the City has not offered her any assistance or communicated with her after the claim was denied.

The City also doesn’t appear to be too compassionate about Shepard’s losses either.

“Good luck with your story,” Toll told News 5.