BURLINGTON — Steve DeQuaker, finance director for the City of Burlington, compared the last few items for the city to do in regard to flood recovery with the last steps in remodeling a house — picking out new curtains, sweeping and mopping, the final touches before completion.
“It’s just taking a little longer than I originally expected,” said DeQuaker. “But that’s not unusual, given the scope of everything that was damaged.”
National Weather Service hydrologist Brian Hahn called the 8-plus inches of rain that dropped on the city within 24 hours on July 12-13 a 100-year event. Water on the Fox River crested at 16.5 feet on the morning of July 13, a record since a gauge was installed there in 2002.
The city accumulated almost $1.5 million dollars of debt from the flood cleanup.
DeQuaker said the bulk of that debt was accrued replacing the city’s electronic infrastructure. Both the basements of City Hall, 300 N. Pine St., and the Burlington Police Department, 224 E. Jefferson St., were flooded, wiping out the city’s data servers, 911 dispatch electronic system, radio, telephones and internet network.
The electric system for the lift station off old Highway 11 also had to be repaired. Using generators, the city got the system running again shortly after the flood.
DeQuaker said the second largest expense from the cleanup was replacing all of the mechanical systems — boilers, furnaces, water heaters and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
Several bridges and overpasses were closed during the height of the flood, but DeQuaker said they were evaluated and showed no signs of damage. The Echo Lake dam was damaged from all the water pressure, but the city’s Department of Public Works completed the repairs earlier this fall.
The city recently finished putting up new drywall in the Police Department’s basement and will install flooring and purchase lockers to convert the basement into a locker room. The station’s elevator will soon be examined to see if it needs replacing.
DeQuaker said there are a few more odds and ends that need to be addressed, but he was confident everything would be completed by the end of the year.
Borrowing to cover repairs
At the City Council meeting on Nov. 21, aldermen authorized the sale of a promissory note for $1,495,000 to the Bank of Kansas. In order to pay off the note, the city’s tax rate is projected to go up by 21 cents in 2019 and then decrease to 13 cents over a 10-year period.
The sale will not affect the tax rate that will help fund the 2018 city’s $8.3 million budget — $9.87 per $1,000 in valuation, which is up 75 cents from last year’s rate of $9.12 per $1,000. The City Council is scheduled to vote on its budget at Tuesday’s meeting.