Mickey Beck, foreground, Jeff Morrow, Judge Greg Pruitt and Phyllis Campbell discuss debris removal at Tuesday special meeting of the Clinton City Council.
Cleaning up the thousands of cubic yards of debris left over from the February ice storm has proven to be an expensive and daunting task. Crews cutting, stacking and hauling damaged trees and fallen branches were at work before the last National Guard vehicle pulled out of the Purchase.
As of April 1st, over 123,000 cubic yards of debris have been picked up in Hickman County alone and that represents a paltry 15% of the total. That means there is almost 700,000 cubic yards of debris left. Paying for removal on budgets stretched like piano wire is almost impossible for the small towns in the region. Help is promised. FEMA will pay 75% of the total cost, the state has agreed to pick up 12%, leaving the county with 13% of the cost for county removal. The county-state-federal deal did not mention clean up within the limits of cities.
On Tuesday evening, County Judge Greg Pruitt came to a special meeting of the Clinton City Council and proposed an interlocal agreement between city and county for debris removal. Although the city has seven men on the job through the ICE program which hires long term unemployed workers, the city is far behind in its clean up efforts. The interlocal agreement offers Clinton access to the clean up crews currently working in the county. In return, the city will pay 13% of the county's share of the clean up effort. The county then offered to reimburse the strapped city for its portion when FEMA and the state reimburse Hickman County.
County Judge Pruitt could not predict how much the clean up would ultimately cost, how long it would take or when FEMA and the state would pay their portion. He told the Council that debris removal was calculated at $4.76 per cubic yard. The city's portion will sixty cents a cubic yard.
City council members, citing summer bugs, termites, snakes, and other unpleasant side effects, were willing to face the uncertainty of the cost and voted unanimously to accept the "Interlocal Cooperation Agreement for the Funding of Ice Storm Debris Removal in the County of Hickman, Kentucky".
Judge Pruitt predicted that Clinton would get attention because the clean up crews are paid by the loads they pick up and loads in the city will be closer together and faster to move than those spread out on county roads.