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Costly winter storm for Auburn: $274,213.39, so far
Leaders at least have a rough idea now about what the late January ice storm actually cost the City of Auburn in dollars and cents.
As of last Tuesday and with numbers still rolling in, the storm response and cleanup needle pointed to $274,213.39.
As might have been expected, the City Public Works Department, which ran the snow plows and kept the water and sewer pumps working, incurred the highest expenses, nearly $200,000.
Final overtime costs for police officers have yet to be determined.
The City lost 215 trees of 33 varieties inside City parks. Game Farm Park lost 97 trees all by itself.
In the midst of the severe power outages and road closure, the City also had to run City Hall and the warming shelters at Les Gove and Veterans Memorial parks.
City leaders will ask FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for reimbursement. And while the City may ask, there are no guarantees it will receive.
Lewis said that the emergency declaration he signed in the final days of January was first about freeing up beleaguered City departments to cut through bureaucratic red tape and make fast purchases of supplies and equipment.
"I needed our people to go out and grab whatever equipment they needed. That was the number one reason for the declaration," Lewis said. "Then our finance director, Shelly Coleman, came to me and said, 'By the way, make sure that every department is accounting for every hour, because it's all reimbursable.' So that's what we're doing. If we had not declared that state of emergency, we could not apply to FEMA."
And if the City doesn't get the money?
"Well, we'll just go forward," Lewis said.
Complicating this scenario are threatened budget cuts from the state of Washington that could directly hit Auburn.