The Mount Carmel standoff, which took place about 10 miles east of Waco, cost city taxpayers more than $143,000 in police salaries and other expenses, a city official said Wednesday.
Assistant city manager Curtis Snow said the city will submit an itemized list of siege-related expenses to the Criminal Justice Division of the governor’s office for possible reimbursement by the federal government.
McLennan County officials already have received several hundred thousand dollars to cover expenses incurred during the 51-day-long siege between Branch Davidian cultists and scores of federal agents.
“We’re there to respond to whenever help is needed . . . but the federal government has made an offer to compensate the county for its expenses,” Snow said.
The city’s $143,123 in standoff-related expenses is broken down into two major categories: police pay and use of the Waco Convention Center by federal officials for daily news briefings.
Snow, who oversees the Waco Police Department, said officers provided security at area hospitals, the Methodist Home — where released Branch Davidian children were kept — and at the Convention Center.
The $115,481 in salaries include the wages that would have been paid to officers even if they had not been assigned to duties related to the siege, Snow said.
The standoff also cost the Fire Department $541, he said.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which conducted the botched Feb. 28 raid at the beginning of the siege, said last week that the standoff cost the agency $4.6 million. That figure, however, did not include ATF agents’ salaries, ATF officials said.
Most of the siege-related activities within Waco’s city limits took place at the Convention Center. From there, federal spokesmen briefed reporters and the world on the status of their talks with Branch Davidian leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh, and his followers.
The loss of room bookings, food, damage and other costs added up to $27,101—about 2 percent of the Convention Center’s $1.7 million annual budget.
In its letter to the state, Snow said, the city will ask for reimbursement for the law enforcement expenses. The money would be paid to the city, via the state, by the U.S. Justice Department’s Emergency Federal law Enforcement Assistance Fund.
The city will likely have to directly bill the FBI and/or the ATF for use of the Convention Center, Snow said.
In a related development, a Texas Water Commission official said it could cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to clean up the toxic amounts of lead and other pollutants, including human waste, at the Mount Carmel site.
TWC district manager Larry Fergusson, who oversees a quarantine of the site, estimated the cleanup cost after taking four U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials on a tour of the site Tuesday.
The cost will be shared by the FBI, ATF and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
It also was disclosed Tuesday that a quarantine at the site has been trimmed from 77 acres to about five so families may bury Branch Davidians in an existing cemetery. Officials say at least one family has made such a request.
The Texas Health Department declared a quarantine on the entire property May 14, citing open pits of human waste and caches of food with possible vermin contamination.