A Henderson city worker did more than $800 worth of waterline repairs at the home of Mayor Andy Hafen’s daughter, who was billed for the labor after the Review-Journal asked about it.
Under city law, the mayor’s daughter, Amanda Hafen, should have had the work done herself because the leak discovered last month was on her property.
Instead, a city employee spent six hours on the repairs, including a second patch after the first one failed.
Records obtained by the newspaper through the state public records law do not show that either the mayor or his daughter asked city crews to do the repair, but just minutes after Andy Hafen’s assistant sent an email asking someone to call the mayor, an employee was sent to the home.
“I don’t think there’s anything nefarious; nobody asked for any favors,” city spokesman Bud Cranor said. “This was just an issue of a guy in the field who took it on himself to go out in the field and initiate the repairs, not requested by the mayor.”
Neither the mayor nor his daughter responded to requests for comment.
On the morning of June 3, the city received a report of water running down the street from a home west of downtown.
After finding the leak was on the “customer side,” according to internal city records, a worker shut off the water, left a note on the door and had customer service leave a phone message.
In most cases, the homeowner would have been responsible for arranging repairs and paying the cost — typically hundreds of dollars. In general, Cranor said, the city only does repairs to leaks on the “customer side” in emergencies or if property owners fail to have them done after being given time.
“If you experience a water leak, blocked pipe or pipe break at any point on your side of your water or sewer service connection, you are responsible for repairs and for all associated costs,” the city’s utility service rules say. That responsibility comes from city code.
But at 11:05 a.m. the day the leak was found, an assistant in Andy Hafen’s city office sent an email asking for someone in the Utility Services Department to call the mayor on his cellphone.
“Mayor would like someone to call him about (his daughter’s address),” the email says. “It’s his daughter’s home and she was told there’s a leak at the water meter on the customer’s side. He probably needs info to help him in repairing the leak.”
The email was forwarded within the department, and at 11:27 a.m. Meter Services Manager Jorge Pardinas replied: “Ryan Reardon is picking up our vactor trailer and heading over there in a few minutes.” Vactor Manufacturing makes customized vehicles that are used in water and sewer repairs.
Reardon, a meter services specialist, arrived at the house at 11:51 a.m. and was working until 6:30 p.m., with a lunch break and two trips to a supply store in between.
After finding the leak, he reconnected two pipes that were slipping loose from each other and tightened the coupling, according to the notes he wrote documenting his work. That took about two hours.
After lunch, as he started to refill the hole with dirt, Reardon noticed the pipes were coming loose again. He made two trips to a Ferguson Plumbing store looking for the right parts and getting advice.
The second fix worked. Reardon put in six hours on the job, two of them overtime, according to an invoice.
“A guy in the field did something that he thought was the right thing to do for a customer,” Cranor said, adding that what initially seemed like a quick fix took longer than expected.
The Review-Journal requested records regarding the repairs on June 15. After charging $57.28 to process the newspaper’s request, the city provided 104 pages of records on July 14.
They include an invoice for $869.87 addressed to Amanda Hafen and dated June 17. A receipt shows she paid the bill by check at the city cashier at 9:21 a.m. that same day — two days after the newspaper requested information about the case.
Normally, charges for utility repairs would be put on a customer’s next regular bill — something the city said has happened several dozen times this year. Exact figures weren’t available.
Cranor said the mayor asked that his daughter be given a separate invoice, but that he did not know why.
“It’s sensitive any time there’s anything involving the mayor or his family,” Cranor said.
Asked whether the Hafens requested the bill because the Review-Journal had asked about the work, Cranor said, “Not to my knowledge.”
Contact Eric Hartley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley.