Twisters put spin on city finances

July 10, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Cleaning up after last month's tornadoes cost Hagerstown taxpayers close to $100,000, said Finance Director Al Martin.

"This ranks up there the same way a bad snowstorm would," Martin said.

Breaking it down, the June 16 tornadoes cost approximately:

- $55,000 for city crews and equipment.
- $38,000 to pay Light Department linemen around the clock to restore power.
- $4,000 to rent dumpsters from BFI.
- $1,000 for public information.

The June 16 storms, packing winds of up to 100 mph, toppled trees and power lines and ripped off roofs.

The hardest hit areas were Halfway and the city's West End and North End.

Severe storms also passed through the county on June 19.

The unexpected expense of storm cleanup cramped the city's budget, Martin said.

But a mild winter helped to cushion the blow. Snow removal cost $115,000 this year, which was $85,000 less than usual.


The tornadoes also cost the Washington County Roads Department $23,000, said Superintendent Ted Wolford.

County roads crews finished cleaning up from the tornadoes and severe storms on June 30, he said.

There were so many severe storms last fiscal year that the department exceeded the $31,000 budget for storm cleanup by $20,000, Wolford said.

The department remained within its entire budget for the fiscal year, which ended June 30, he said.

Crews earned $1,000 in overtime cleaning up from the storm with much of the cleanup occurring during regular hours, Wolford said. The overtime was earned the night of the tornadoes as crews worked to clear roads, he said.

The cost to the city wasn't nearly as great as the inconvenience and distress the tornadoes caused people, Martin said.

"We certainly don't want to see this kind of storm again," he said.

Staff writer Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.

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