November 6, 2013

Sedgwick County reimburses Haysville $73,000 for June storm cleanup

Haysville will get $73,000 from Sedgwick County to help with cleanup from a June 27 storm whose winds felled trees, damaged roofs and ripped down fences.

Haysville will get $73,000 from Sedgwick County to help with cleanup from a June 27 storm whose winds felled trees, damaged roofs and ripped down fences.

County commissioners voted 4 to 1 to reimburse the city for cleanup. Commissioner Richard Ranzau voted against giving Haysville the money, saying the county’s policy is to help local governments with the disposal, not the pickup and hauling, of storm debris.

Commissioners initially considered reimbursing Haysville slightly more than $100,000, the amount the city had requested from the county.

Board chairman Jim Skelton asked the county’s legal staff why the matter was on the commission’s agenda if it didn’t comply with the county’s policy.

“This has created an embarrassing situation for us,” said Skelton, who added that he wanted to help Haysville but wanted to do so in a way that followed the county’s policy.

Under the county’s policy, eligible costs are defined as tipping fees for disposal of debris. But the policy also says that the county “may consider alternative methods for disposal.” Haysville separated debris into several piles and plans to burn the debris, said chief administrator officer William Black. The city incurred hauling expenses as well as staff overtime and fuel costs.

"This was a pretty dramatic event" for the south side and city of Haysville, Commissioner Tim Norton said. His district includes Haysville.

Norton said the roof of his own home needed to be replaced.

A memo from the city of Haysville to the county said that “The wind storm of June 27, 2013 struck late that evening and carried on into the early morning hours. That night, in attempts to improve safety conditions throughout, city crews returned to duty to open roads and remove fallen trees near power lines. The following day (a Friday), we began work to clear side-road intersections and haul away the remaining tree debris.”

The memo said that many intersections were closed off.

“Two roads remained closed, as they were obstructed with downed power lines/poles, and city crews spent the next several days clearing these intersections,” the memo said.

After it was collected, “all debris was brought into the public works facility and dumped into a single pile; however, as said pile grew very quickly in size, we soon realized it would be necessary to form other piles. This location has been Haysville’s permitted burn site for several years. In dealing with the fire department, air-quality, and the EPA, we knew we could not burn that massive amount all at one time. In total, there are six piles to be burned,” the memo said.

Black told The Eagle on Wednesday that the city will burn the debris “when the winds are out of the north at 5 to 15 mph.”

The county plans to take a look at its reimbursement policy for the future.

“It’s not for collection,” Ranzau said after the meeting of the reimbursement policy. “This policy was clearly abused.”

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