SPRAGUE, Wash.-- The City of Sprague faced unplanned expenses in May from a powerful storm that knocked out a building nine months earlier in the middle of the City.
In May, a pile of rubble left by the September storm remained on the ground in Downtown Sprague, where a building once stood.The property owner cleaned up some of it, but the Mayor said the clean up was taking too long.
“People stop and they take pictures of Downtown, and unfortunately the rubble pile too,” said Mayor John Eagleson.
The eye sore created problems for local businesses, which meant the city might bear the burden of cleaning it up.
“The businesses say they have suffered because of the building collapse and they are not getting enough business,” Eagleson said.
City leaders condemned the building and a next-door veterinary clinic after a heavy rainfall caused them to partially collapse.
A crew demolished the clinic in February, but not the building next-door. The owner of the veterinary clinic had insurance, but the other property owner did not.
Eagleson said the City sent a letter to the property owner, setting an April deadline to have the pile of rubble removed.
“It’s just been too long enough in most people’s mind and they would like to see it gone,” Eagleson said.
Eventually, the City Council elected to take legal action through an abatement process.
“There are several council members that have decided enough time has expired that they would like the rubble removed, salvage operation or not,” Eagleson said.
The abatement process required the City to pay upfront, though it could recover the cost by putting a lien on the property owner’s assets. Eagleson said early estimates for the clean-up came in at about $25,000.
“That’s a big hit to a city of our size,” Eagleson said. “that doesn’t cover the attorney cost. That was just an estimate for the rubble removal.”
City leaders had not budgeted for the expense. The City Clerk said $36,000 remained in the Sprague's general fund in May. To pay for the abatement process, the City would have to take a loan from its utilities fund and pay it back with interest according to the City Clerk.
The Mayor hoped the city would not need to take legal action.
“It’s not our first option, but presently it’s our only option and again, we are hoping that it becomes a no option because the property owner removes the rubble,” he said.
KREM 2 News reached out the property owner, but got no response.