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Budget change pays for fire clean-up in downtown Sunnyside

A budget adjustment was approved at last night's Sunnyside City Council meeting to pay for the clean-up of the former site of El Conquistador restaurant in the downtown core.

The budget amendment allows the city to transfer $38,000 from the Solid Waste Fund to the General Fund, paying for the clean-up costs.

Because of legal questions regarding the transfer, council member Theresa Hancock asked if the transfer had to the potential to be an audit problem in the future.

"I guarantee it won't be an audit problem," said interim City Manager Frank Sweet. "I don't guarantee many things."

Council member Jason Raines asked for clarification on the legal situation regarding the fire.

City Attorney Scott Beyer said the property owner had filed for bankruptcy, which makes him immune to civil claims. However, the city has a criminal citation against him.

Further, according to Beyer, the property owner was part of a lawsuit against the owner of the property where the fire started. If any money came from that, it would be disbursed according to the bankruptcy laws. Beyer suggested the city should look into making sure Sunnyside is on the list of creditors to be paid.

Hancock asked if the city had gotten any money at all. Beyer said the judgment against the property owner stated he had to pay the city $500 a month. Deputy City Manager Byron Olsen said the city had received one payment so far.

The amendment, which required five affirmative votes to pass, also means that any further money received from the property owner will go into the Solid Waste Fund.

The amendment was passed by a 5-0 vote, with two council members absent.

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