Wednesday, May 13, 2009

City Council Meeting

Mayor Cole called an emergency meeting of the city council at 5 today to update council members on the status of the storm cleanup.

The city estimates it has lost the following in tax revenue:
Sales Tax--$75,650
Home Rule Tax--$82,885
Use Tax--$5000
Electric Utility Tax--$1,900
Hotel tax--$9,110
Total estimated lost for May 8th through the 13th--$187,545

Plus estimated loss of motor fuel taxes of $6,645. Total estimated tax revenue lost by the end of the emergency will likely run around $500,000

There are a couple of major damages to city property. There's about $70,000 damage to the roof at the Eurma C. Hayes Center and the Northwest Wastewater Treatment Plant suffered about $500,000 in damage.

Roughly 150,000 cubic yards of trees and other plants were destroyed during the storm and are in the process of getting removed at a cost of $990,000. Current estimates are 2100 trees lost within the city of Carbondale and another 1000 on the SIUC campus. A couple of people at the meeting expressed the opinion later that these figures are probably pretty low. Money for the cleanup is coming from the city's general fund, which has about $5 million in it for just this sort of emergency. Plans are for the city to offer free hauling of trees and branches until May 24. Reisdents are resposible for getting branches and trunks to the curb, then the city will haul them off, but they the mayor emphasized the city would only do this for the next two weekends but would make as many sweeps during this period to clean everything up.

Also, in order to make this easier, city residents are to treat this as a snow emergency and refrain from street parking in areas so marked. Regular updates are posted on the Carbondale Police and Explore Carbondale websites.

After hearing the update, the council then passed a resultuion extending the city's Disaster Emergency status until May 31. Afterpassing this, the mayor closed the meeting at 5:26, then took questions from council members, residents and the press.

According to Mayor Cole, Carbondale is far ahead of its sister cities in assessing damage and arranging for debris pickup. There are still about 15,000 people without power in Jackson County, 20% to 1/3 of them in Carbondale. Crime has been remarkable low, which the mayor attributed to the 24 hour presence of both uniformed and plainclothes police. There have been a couple of burglaries, the perpetrators of which were caught almost imeeediately. About 100 vendor permits have been issued for landscapers, eletricians and tree removal and there have been problems with only a couple of them. No instances of outright fraud have been reported.

There has been no federal disaster assistance as of yet and the only assistance from the state has been the loan of trucks and prisoners from the department of corrections.

Sometime next eyar will see the city start developing plans to reseed and replant the thoushands of trees lost during the last few days but this weill be a (very) long term process.

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