Town officials estimate the cost of repainting the START bus facility after a vandal tagged most of the exterior will reach $45,000.

The cost includes the materials and labor to add a clear, anti-graffiti coating that will allow the building to simply be power-washed should a similar crime befall it in the future, according to a report presented to the Jackson Town Council Monday night.

“When you’ve got a $13 million building, fixing it so you can get the graffiti off easy seems like a small price to pay,” Public Works Director Larry Pardee said.

In the meantime, the estimated cost of repairing the damage easily tips the crime into the felony range.

Property damage that costs more than $1,000 to repair qualifies as a felony under Wyoming law.

Town Councilor Jim Stanford called the price tag “a preposterous sum” at the meeting and said he hoped the Jackson Police Department will locate the vandals and perhaps be able to recoup some of the cost through the legal system.

The Town Council also suggested painting over the vandalized areas with a mural or installing security cameras as possible remedies that might cost less.

The discussion was precipitated the evening of Sept. 15, when as yet unknown vandals covered most of the exterior of the START bus facility on Snow King Avenue with 3-foot-high bright red graffiti.

Taggers painted several words and images, including the word “Dope,” the phrase “Kuck in 2012” and several bright red faces, most of which featured oversized lips.

Other tags include the name “Elizabeth,” the phrase “43N” and the phrase “could have stopped it.”

Police continue to investigate the vandalism, which also included trees near the corner of Snow King Avenue and Flat Creek Drive and an apartment building at the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Snow King Avenue.

It remains unclear what the taggers believed could have been stopped and by whom it would have been stopped, but Officer Andy Pearson, who is the lead investigator on the case, said he has received at least one tip on the matter.

The case remains open, and Pearson declined to be more specific on the record.

Town officials were able to remove the spray-painted images using soda blasting.

The plan presented Monday night was to repaint the damaged areas light gray to match the rest of the building and to repaint the entire exterior with the graffiti-proof coating.

Anyone with leads on the incident, which occurred between 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Sept. 15, can notify Pearson at 733-1430 or 733-2331.

Contact Emma Breysse at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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