City of Mesa will not lower bill for businessman

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

MESA, Ariz. -- Ron Martin remains disappointed with the city of Mesa, saying they're  taking advantage of him and his small business.

"They're kind of stuck in their ways, so this is the end result," Martin said. "There were a few people initially helping us, but then the higher-ups said, 'No, we're not dealing with him.'"

Martin owns a company called Quick-Post Sytems, which installs thousands of real estate posts around the Valley.

Installation requires simply driving a plastic pole into the ground.

But during a recent installation on city of Mesa property, Martin hit a water line underground and didn't know it until a month later when he received a bill for $935. 

In our first 3 On Your Side report, Martin told us, "All of a sudden we got an invoice from the city of Mesa saying you hit a city line. We've repaired it and here's your bill for $1,000."

Martin told us he'd be happy to pay the bill, but he has an issue with the amount.

The bill says it took five city workers nearly 20 man-hours to fix the pipe. Those 20 hours brought the bill up to $935.

But Martin said the number of people for that job and the amount he's being charged is outrageous.

"We certainly didn't expect to see a thousand dollar bill for something that should really normally take somebody two to three hours to fix," he said.

After 3 On Your Side got involved, a spokesman for the city of Mesa defended the amount, saying it was an emergency call and claimed that Martin violated state law by not calling for a Blue Stake, where crews come ot and use bright paint to help avoid underground pipes.

Still,  the city indicated it would consider lowering the bill.  

But instead, officials emailed me a statement saying Martin "is responsible for the full cost of those repairs."

Martin says he's surprised, claiming the bill is extremely excessive and he's disappointed that the city changed its mind about decreasing the amount.

"I would have hoped they would do something about the bill not maybe lowering it a couple of hundred dollars off," he said. "Make us feel good, maybe throw us a bone."

If you'd like to read exactly what the city of Mesa had to say about their decision not to lower the bill, their unedited statement is below.

The City of Mesa, upon further evaluation of Mr. Martin's claim, has determined that because of his decision not to follow proper and legal procedures in excavating for his post hole/sign business, Qwik Post, a City of Mesa water utility line was damaged which resulted in the City having to make emergency repairs of the water line outside of normal business hours. He is responsible for the full cost of those repairs.

Blue staking is not optional and is required of all persons or businesses excavating in the State of Arizona and in Mesa. When any individual or company excavates or digs in Mesa without "blue staking" and hits City utility lines, that party is responsible for the cost of repairs.