City Council approves first reading of cost recovery ordinance

FLUSHING — Flushing City Council has approved the first reading of an ordinance that will help the city to recover some of its emergency response costs.

Interim Flushing City Manager Clarence Goodlein said that the ordinance will provide the ability for the city to recover costs that are related to any type of an emergency response—primarily, those that are handled by the Flushing City Fire Department.

When an emergency happens in the city, such as an automobile accident or house fire, the ordinance will allow the city to easily recover costs incurred to the fire department or other city departments and make insurance claims if necessary.

According to the ordinance, emergency services that would warrant cost recovery charges include: a multi or single motor vehicle and/or pedestrian accident or other incident involving motor vehicles and/or pedestrians; automobile, home, commercial, brush and rubbish fires; downed power line or other non-HAZMAT public utility hazard response; false alarms and bomb threats; and demolition of a structure.

Exemptions to the cost recovery ordinance include situations where the fire department responds to a fire involving city buildings, grounds and/or property, or when it responds to a fire or provides other emergency services that are performed outside of the city.

Goodlein said that several recovery costs listed in the ordinance will be waived for Flushing residents because they are already paying for city services. However, the exemption does not apply if the city responds to someone who reports false alarms for emergency assistance or makes excessive requests for other emergency services.

City Attorney Matt McKone said that the ordinance will also allow the city to pursue insurance claims against individuals who create emergency situations through negligence—such as a DUI-caused rollover, or criminal activities, like deliberate arson or a bomb threat.

A second reading of the ordinance will take place at next month’s city council meeting.