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County considers insurance payments to aid disaster cleanups

12/4/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The Ellis County Commission reviewed a resolution concerning insurance proceeds at Monday's regular meeting.

In his memo to commissioners, Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund said if the resolution is approved, it puts the county in the position to receive 15 percent of proceeds of any insurance payout when 75 percent or more of a property owner's structure is destroyed by fire, explosion or windstorm.

Sund said in his memo the resolution provides the county a way to collect any unpaid taxes on the impacted property and also makes sure the property owner either cleans up the property to the satisfaction of the county or the county can use the money to do it.

If approved, unincorporated areas of the county would be affected by the resolution. Sund said state law allows a county, or city, for instance, to adopt such a resolution. Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty said he saw no need to adopt similar legislation.

Commissioners Swede Holmgren and Dean Haselhorst agreed having a fair standard used by the county was important, if the resolution is passed. Commissioner Barbara Wasinger was not at Monday's meeting.

"You have to have one set of ground rules," Haselhorst said.

Sund agreed with the commissioners' desire for an even playing field for the county's cleanup standards for such a resolution.

"Before I ask you to pass this, I believe you have to have the standard written, what we expect it to be at," he said.

Once the county receives the money, it would have 20 days to determine the condition of the affected property. If the county determines no cleanup is necessary by the county, the money would be returned within 30 days.

Holmgren directed Sund to check the state's statute concerning the resolution.

"We certainly appreciate you researching this, but I think we're going to need a little more research," Holmgren told Sund.

Holmgren said he looks at the issue from two different sides.

"I'm looking at this from a county commissioner perspective that says, 'Hey, this might have some merit,' " he said. "As a personal property owner, I'm saying, 'Wait a minute, rein in the horses, slow down, because I need to read the fine print.' "