Springfield looking to change settlement policy for claims under $10K

Springfield City Commissioners during a public meeting this month held inside the City Commission Forum at Springfield City Hall. Hasan Karim/Staff

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Springfield City Commissioners during a public meeting this month held inside the City Commission Forum at Springfield City Hall. Hasan Karim/Staff

Springfield’s elected leaders are pondering a rule change that will allow for the city’s law director to settle claims of under $10,000 without first seeking commissioner approval.

The change would be related to mostly property damage claims involving the city, such as those that might occur during a road or sewer project. Currently, if a settlement is over $500, it must be approved by commissioners.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said that the change would better align with the city’s deductible limit under its current insurance policy related to those matters. He said that the $500 cap has been the case for decades and city officials thought it was time for an update.

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Heck said that it is part of a continual process by the city to identify ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its services, while also looking at what needs to be updated overtime.

Those types of settlements are not happening all the time, but they do occur from time to time, city officials said. The change would take the form of legislation that would update a section of what is referred to as the “Codified Ordinances of The City of Springfield.”

Springfield commissioners are expected to vote on it at their next public meeting that will be held at the City Commission Forum at Springfield City Hall on Feb.1.

If passed, claims over $10,000 such as one for over $19,000 that was presented to commissioners this week will still need approval by those elected officials.

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The settlement of $19,629 that was approved by commissioners during their public meeting on Tuesday was with The Ohio Bell Telephone Company, now doing business as AT&T Ohio. It is related to damages that occurred during a project on West High Street in May that involved working a 100 feet sewer line. There was some damage to the companies utility line underground as a result, said Heck.

Heck said that while that type of damage is not common, its not out the ordinary, especially when working on a road way that contains a lot of underground infrastructure such as utility lines.

He said that in every type of those projects, the city makes an effort to locate those utilities and make sure that city work does not interfere with those services.

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