By DAVE RANK Daily News Staff
Dead trees have earned Washington County $500,000, with more money to come later this year.
The county received more than a half million dollars as its share of a national class action lawsuit settlement with DuPont involving the company’s herbicide Imprelis, which proved an effective weed killer at the Washington County Golf Course in 2011 and even more effective in killing trees.
More money will come from DuPont this year because additional trees are dying, County Attorney Kimberly Nass said Wednesday. It has not yet been decided how much more money will be paid to the county, she said. The DuPont settlement has “no strings attached” on how the compensation dollars can be used, Nass said.
The County Board’s Planning, Conservation and Parks Committee has held one closed session to discuss the settlement money and will continue the discussion at its Feb. 26 meeting, department Administrator Paul Mueller said.
How the settlement money will be used remains to be decided by the PCPC, Nass said.
During the PCPC’s Wednesday afternoon session, Mike Kactro, who manages the course, suggested that besides using the money to replace dead and dying trees, the DuPont settlement also could pay for 33 new golf carts and a beverage service cart at the county course. The new golf carts would replace 27 11-year-old carts, Kactro said, and cost about $135,000.
“I do have a problem with buying those golf carts with the settlement money,” County Supervisor Michael Parsons, town of Farmington, said. “There is another option suggested.”
Because the settlement money was discussed in a closed session, further details on Parsons’ statement were not provided, although Mueller said a second closed session could be scheduled at the February meeting.
In 2012, county officials suggested the settlement might be used to pay off remaining debt from the construction of the county golf course. The county opened the $7 million public golf course in 1997 with $2 million in privately donated funds and a $5 million loan. The remaining debt is less than $500,000.
The DuPont settlement was approved in October by a federal court in Philadelphia, according to the court-ordered website www.treedamagesettlement. com. DuPont is prepared to pay out between $750 million and $900 million in compensation to “tens of thousands of customers” nationwide who used the new herbicide Imprelis between August 2010 and August 2011, Bloomberg.com reported.
DuPont is the trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., headquartered in Wilmington, Del., a chemical company with annual revenues of $35 billion. Imprelis was removed from the market following reports of damaged and dying trees.