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Published: Saturday, August 24, 2019 @ 4:00 AM
BEAVERCREEK — The cleanup bill following the EF 3 tornado that cut through northern neighborhoods in Beavercreek has left city officials hoping for a mild winter.
The latest estimates show tornado recovery will cost the city more than $3 million, based on estimates of expenses in collecting and processing mountains of fallen trees and other yard debris collected at Greene County Environmental Services in Xenia and the Cemex Reserve park in Fairborn.
The city will seek bids from contractors to chip and haul away the debris. Beavercreek City Manager Pete Landrum said he hopes the bidding process is competitive to drive down the costs, as about half the city’s streets and general fund reserves are devoted to paying the storm clean-up bill.
“This was a big undertaking for us to do and we’re still trying to work the numbers on how we’re actually going to pay for it,” Landrum said. “I feel for the residents that are in battles with insurance companies and battles with contractors or finding a contractor.”
City officials are waiting for direction from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on their regulations before applying jointly with Greene County and Beavercreek Twp. for reimbursement of costs. The local governing bodies could receive reimbursement up to 75 percent, but payment could take up to two years.
The two heaping piles of debris at the environmental services center and Cemex each measure approximately 74,000 cubic yards, which is comparable to a stack of 740 semi tractor trailers.
Dana Storts, the county’s environmental services manager, said the majority of the material at the environmental services center on Greene Way Boulevard is from the city of Beavercreek, while the second largest is from the residents who brought it in directly. The Greene County Engineer’s Office and Beavercreek Twp. also contributed to the total debris amount.
“This is unprecedented with the amount of material that was generated from this storm and it’s been a phenomenal cooperative journey between these entities to assist Greene County residents,” Storts said.
FEMA is expected to return to the Dayton area to discuss regulations on the reimbursement applications sometime after Labor Day.
The challenge to pay for the tornado’s aftermath in Beavercreek is more difficult because the city does not collect an income tax, but relies on property taxes to pay for services.
Beavercreek is one of only four Ohio cities without an income tax and by far the largest among them in population, officials said.
Income taxes are typically the largest sources of revenue for cities, and it can help provide “greater local control over cash flow, which is vital to ensuring a municipality can continue delivering quality services,” said Ashley Brewster, spokeswoman for the Ohio Municipal League.
Under Ohio law, city councils can impose income taxes up to 1 percent, but Beavercreek’s charter specifically states that voters must approve any municipal tax.
Beavercreek voters last considered an income tax in May 2013 when it was soundly rejected 62 to 38 percent.
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Landrum said Beavercreek’s revenue is from property tax levied for specific purposes, such as police, fire and street maintenance services.
“All our funding is in silos … I can’t use one dime of police funds to help pick up sticks,” Landrum said.
With the general fund and street fund reserves down, Landrum said the coming winter presents some significant unknowns in terms of funding operations.
“Lord forbid, a severe ice storm comes and does all kinds of more tree damage throughout say the southern part of the city,” he said. “They’ve come before and it’s expensive. We hope and pray that doesn’t happen and gives us time to get back to where we should be financially. We wouldn’t be able to weather another event like this right now.”