The cost of storm recovery? $340K

The cost of removing debris and replacing damaged city property racked up quickly in the wake of a two-day ice storm in February.

Recovering from a February ice storm is expected to cost the city of Keizer at least $340,000.

According to a damage estimate Keizer Public Works (KPW) submitted to Marion County officials, the bulk of the expense ($225,000) can be attributed to removal of fallen and hanging branches from streets throughout Keizer.

“We will be doing one more pass this week and removing branches and limbs from rights-of-way, but we’re hoping that will be the end of it,” said Bill Lawyer, KPW director, at a meeting of the Keizer city council Monday, March 1.

The next largest expense for the city as a result of the storm was cleaning up of debris and tree trimming in Keizer parks. The expected final cost of park clean-up is approximately $50,000 with an additional $2,100 in overtime pay.

In the weeks since the storm, the city operated a debris collection site for nearly two weeks and then on weekends.

Since the site was established, 144 30-yard containers have been removed from the parking lot south of Keizer Little League Park.

“That’s about 4,300 cubic yards of debris and there’s still a pretty good pile up there,” Lawyer said.

Debris from the collection site is being dumped at Salem’s Brown Island facility for free, but Keizer is expected to rack up a $30,000 bill between two local haulers and another $7,100 in overtime pay to operate the site.

The council granted approval to close the site Sunday, March 7. The final hours will be Saturday, March 6, and Sunday, March 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It costs between $1,000 and $1,500 per day to operate the collection service and Lawyer said there is more and more greenery being deposited that doesn’t appear to be a result of storm damage.

“One of the guys at the site talked with a young man who had brought in three loads of arbor vitae that his father was paying him to take out of the yard,” Lawyer said.

Councilor Dan Kohler countered that some such work is needed as a result of the storm and asked how city employees determined what counted as storm debris.

“It’s one example of people taking advantage of what is offered,” said Lawyer. “As a homeowner, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done the same thing, but it’s still taking advantage.”

Another reason for closing the lot is that youth sports activities will begin ramping up in the coming weeks and the space will be needed for parking.

Additional expenses included: overtime for monitoring water systems during power outages ($1,800) and replacement of fences after damage from trees ($25,000).