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      Columbia permit mistake costing taxpayers thousands

      An expensive mistake. There is no other way to describe what Columbia officials call a patio permit error that will cost taxpayers nearly 100-thousand dollars to correct. That's a lot of money; but not spending it could end up costing everyone much more.

      Drive down Devine Street and you'll see a small sandwich shop that's costing Columbia taxpayers big money. The problem dates back 10-years ago when city officials granted the permit to build the deck; but they overlooked the map showing the building was in the Gills Creek flood way.

      "It's a mistake. It should've been caught at that point but it wasnt. We're responsible for it," says Columbia's utilities and engineering director John Dooley. He says if they don't floodproof the building by June, no one inside city limits will be able to buy flood insurance.

      Dooley says "They've been telling us we had to do something about it,." They being FEMA told the city to do something about it a decade ago. Now Columbia officials have three-months to comply.

      He says, "We have no other choice but to flood-proof the building." Which according to Dooley means installing flood-proof doors and putting up concrete reinforcement walls around the building. Something the Egg Roll China Restaurant, across the street, has already done.

      "Had this been caught at time the permit was applied for, it would've been the owner's responsibility," says Dooley.

      Now it's costing columbia taxpayers 94-thousand dollars. The money will come from the cities general fund and Dooley says it won't cause taxes to go up.