City officials have asked their insurance representatives to pay for rebuilding the city’s collapsed salt barn since the two have been unable to agree on a settlement for a new facility.
Administration officials said the city has been dealing with not having a permanent salt garage as well as having to reorder salt numerous times during a rough winter while the settlement is negotiated. A large storage tent has been set up to house the city’s salt supply during this winter.
“It’s been a problem, but we’re dealing with it,” Mayor Debbie Sutherland said.
She said negotiations with the Travelers’ Insurance firm are still ongoing about a settlement for the old garage, which collapsed during the Memorial Day weekend.
“The insurance company has a different perception of what is needed in this than we do,” she said.
A Travelers’ Insurance representative said company policy was to not comment on ongoing negotiations and said it was unlikely they would answer any questions until the matter was settled.
Bay Village Finance Director Steve Presley said this winter’s heavy weather is not helping the salt supply situation.
“We’ve already used more salt in this winter than we have in any of the previous five seasons,” he said Friday (prior to the weekend ice storm). “I have an order for 600 more tons sitting here on my desk ready to go out. It’s only February, so I’d say it’s a safe bet we’re going to have to order more salt before we get out of this particular winter.”
He said when that salt is purchased, the city will have spent more than $100,000 this year. It normally is budgeted for about $94,000.
“When you look at figures like that, you definitely want to get the matter of the salt storage area settled,” he said. “But, as a finance person, I can’t agree with what the insurance representatives want us to settle for at this point.”
Presley declined to cite specifics, but acknowledged city negotiators and their insurance counterparts were a couple of hundred thousand dollars apart when asked by West Life. He said he has a check from the insurance company, but will not cash it because the amount won’t meet the city’s needs.
“That’s one of the reasons we’ve asked the insurers to rebuild the old facility,” he said. “The amount they’re asking us to settle for won’t get us a new one which can handle our needs or take care of fixing the problems from the previous one.”
In the Memorial Day weekend collapse, investigators ruled the building collapsed due to a combination of corrosion and age. The combination of metal and concrete, along with the building being 35 years old, led to it coming down on top of the salt supply.
Sutherland said the city wants to make sure it has adequate facilities for storing salt.
“This winter points out the need for having the right type of facility,” she said. “We’re fortunate that it didn’t come down during the winter. We could have had people going in and out of it. Plus, it would have hampered our efforts to deal with the weather by having it go down during bad weather. That’s why we want to make sure it’s stored properly.”