Costs from windstorm buffeting Davis County's reserves

Dec 16 2011 - 6:55am

The cost of the Dec. 1 hurricane-force windstorm that ripped through Davis County continues to mount.

Bountiful city leaders estimate the gale-like winds caused millions of dollars of damage to private property and will end up costing the city millions in an attempt to clean up, fix up and get things back to normal.

The city council held its last scheduled meeting of 2011 Tuesday and approved an early measure to pay for some power supplies related to the storm.

It is only the beginning of what is expected to follow.

City Manager Tom Hardy estimated the storm caused $1 million worth of damage to the city's utility system and has cost $500,000 to clean up so far.

The storm crippled the city's utility company, leaving power off for some customers for up to four days and initiating a cooperative effort from power crews around the state that included at least 12 other municipalities.

The labor and parts provided by those outsiders will have to be paid for in the coming months, said Allen Johnson, director of Bountiful City Light & Power.

"We will spend first and ask questions later. Getting the power back on is not negotiable," Hardy said of the expected costs.

City officials discussed where funding for all of the repair work will come from.

Hardy suggested city leaders will have to dip into existing reserves to pay many of the bills incurred because of storm damage.

In the meantime, Hardy said, city crews continue to pick up waste generated by the storm.

He said the city will pick up limbs left at the curb and take them to the Bountiful landfill until Dec. 23.

Davis County properties have sustained $621,000 in damage as a result of the windstorm, said Davis County Personnel Director Mel Miles.

"That's likely to float higher," Miles said of the estimate as damage assessments continue.

Most of the damage to county properties occurred on its two golf courses and to the Legacy Events Center, which had some expensive heaters damaged.

Miles said he suspects the county will be up to $650,000 in damages in the next few days.

"It trickles in," he said. "It is substantial damage, but not as much damage as one may have feared witnessing the events on that day."

The good news is, the windstorm did not result in any serious personal injuries to county staff, with the exception of an employee who suffered a broken foot bone when blown up against a curb.

County officials have reported they hope to cover the cost of the damage with funds in a contingency budget.

If those funds are unable to cover the entire cost of the damages, officials said, they can revisit its recently approved 2012 calendar year budget later in the coming year.

But while the county and Bountiful were wind-blown, Layton city may be able to keep the cost of damages to its properties at less than six figures.

Preliminary estimates put repair costs to city properties at $59,875, said Layton Assistant City Attorney Steve Garside.

"A big chunk of (the damages) was traffic-control devices," he said.

Stops signs and street signs were ripped away by the wind, as well as some traffic signals, which were torn loose from mast arms, Garside said.

Most of the other damage caused by the wind occurred in the city's parks and involved uprooted trees and damaged fences, he said.

"We are going to try to have each of the departments absorb (storm damage costs) through their existing budget."

If existing department budgets cannot absorb all of the costs related to the storm, Garside said, the city does have a reserve fund it can use to cover needed repairs.

Layton did not receive any reports of personal injuries.

Other Davis cities also continue to assess the full extent of wind damage in their communities, with Farmington and Centerville appearing to have taken the brunt of the storm, each reporting an estimated $8 million in damages.

Weber State University, in Ogden, reported $1.84 million in damage to its campus.

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