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A Bloomington attorney said he wants the City of Bloomington to pay $ 310,000 to 10 victims of hurricane damage following flooding the first summer or he’ll take them to court.
Did Mahrt send what he called a settlement proposal to the city. Mahrt said homeowners are facing financial losses of between $ 10,000 and $ 75,000 each, mainly due to flooding of raw sewage into their homes and basements following severe flooding. -rain June 25-26.
Mahrt said his settlement proposal only includes property damages and does not include secondary costs, such as loss of wages or illness and suffering. He suggested the lawsuit would cost the city more. “I think it would be a reasonable inference,” Mahrt said.
Residents in some of the city’s older communities have expressed frustration with the city council and administration over its aging underground infrastructure, which includes miles of integrated sewer lines that were backed up following the storms.
Any settlement must be approved by the city council. The council discussed financial assistance to affected homeowners, but City Manager Tim Gleason urged the council against such a response, calling it a “bad example” and suggesting direct payments may not be legal.
“The position the city is expected to take is that we’re in a defensive position, because I’m talking behind the scenes and in public, it really makes no difference,” Gleason said Tuesday.
Bloomington City Council on Monday narrowly voted against a plan to provide direct local assistance to affected residents and instead supported a plan that would have residents exhaust all other funding options while the city is still researching what a direct assistance program might look like. All of the city staff options presented to the council say the city is not responsible for any damage to residents ’properties.
When asked about Mahrt’s request for compensation, Gleason told WGLT that the city cannot be held responsible for damages after a natural disaster.
“Even though it’s hard to hear that, I want to make sure I’m all specific in what I’m saying. More importantly than me I want to make sure my elected officials are on solid ground when they get their city managers based. on staff recommendations saying so, ”Gleason said.
Mahrt said he believes the possibility of any direct payment for damages from the city rests with the council, which at this point is split on the issue. “I don’t have much hope for a council staff recommendation,” Mahrt said. “I have more hope that the council will use and decide that a settlement is appropriate despite a staff recommendation.”
Mahrt said the legal claims of the residents are beyond the issue of whether to pay directly. He said the city has an obligation to pay legal claims from its residents. The city has resisted, arguing storms that cause damage are very rare and unavoidable.
Mahrt said the flood damages of the residents had little to do with the heavy rains and more to do with the city’s infrastructure.
“That argument is based on the defense of this Act of God. The defense of the Act of God has nothing to do with sanitary sewage. There is no Act of God that produces sanitary sewage,” Mahrt said.
Some city residents have also explored emergency loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. City council member Mollie Ward, who led the campaign for direct assistance, said some property owners were turned down because they weren’t earning enough. The SBA deadline to apply for loans to cover physical injuries has passed. Residents have until April 26, 2022, to apply for economic recovery assistance.
The SBA said it has approved nearly $ 1.4 million in loans to affected home and business owners. It has approved 36 of the 73 loan requests processed so far, while three applicants are still being processed. The SBA also approved a business loan worth $ 23,400 from the eight applicants it received, according to SBA public affairs specialist Janel Finley.
Mahrt said he has spoken to other Bloomington owners whose damages total hundreds of thousands of dollars. He said he would give the city until Jan. 1 to respond to his request.