Pasco recouping costs for Liberty Theatre

Pasco recouping costs for Liberty Theatre »Play Video
PASCO, Wash. -- An accidental fire ended up costing Pasco 30 grand. The city had to solve a safety issue after the Liberty Theatre burned to the ground.

Pasco handed the bill back to the property owner, but where does it go from here?

The Liberty Theatre was almost done with a massive remodel when it caught fire almost six months ago. The owner promised to rebuild, but Pasco had an immediate safety risk on its hands.

"The building, once it was damaged by fire, was going to collapse in the street, so that had to be fixed immediately," says Pasco Planning Manager Rick White.

That demolition cost $30,000. Pasco expects the property owner will repay the costs, likely through his insurance company.

But it isn't always this simple.

KEPR followed up on the Elm Street meat packing plant just last week.

Pasco spent almost $130,000 in taxpayer money to clean up that site when the previous owners went bankrupt.

A lien was put on the property and it was eventually foreclosed on. Pasco expected to get the money back after a sale to commercial developers.

But now that could be delayed.

Asbestos in the building means Pasco can't prep the land for a sale.
The list goes on.

A decade ago, Pasco recouped more than $10,000 after a case of arson.

A house on Valdez Lane in Pasco used to be one of those properties.

The city had to come in and clean up the site after a fire. When the owner couldn't repay those costs back to the city, the city foreclosed and recouped the costs by selling it.

The City says a lien is the best way to save taxpayers' money, especially when safety hazards force the city to take immediate action.

"I think the last thing you want to do is bill the taxpayers for emergencies that are not their cause or not due to their actions," White says.

It's a process that ends up saving your money when the city cleans up other people's problems.

The fire that destroyed the house on Valdez Lane was intentionally set by a husband who was mad at his wife.

The owner of the Liberty Theater declined to comment today but is moving forward to rebuild the theater.

The cause of the fire was never determined.