More on Iowa City flood buyouts

June 26, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY – I had a story in today’s Gazette and on GazetteOnline about how buyouts are to begin next week for flood victims in Iowa City.

I talked to a couple of people who will sell their homes to the city, and they were excited to finally be at this point.

City officials are very happy, too.

“I think happy would be an understatement,” said Steve Long, Iowa City’s community development director.

OK, so “happy” is not a strong enough word, but you get the point. 

It’s been a long year for everyone dealing with last year’s record flood. City officials are proud that Iowa City is among the first in the state to close on flooded properties.

“It’s pretty gratifying,” said David Purdy, the city’s point man on buyouts.

The timing of the buyouts is something to take note of. When a city buys a property, it goes off the tax rolls.

But that’s done just once a year, on July 1, said Assistant City Attorney Sue Dulek.

So it’s more benenificial for the city to buy as many of the flood-damaged homes as it can by the end of the month. If it buys one, say, Aug. 1, it would have to pay property taxes for the 11 months left in the fiscal year, she said.

It wasn’t until earlier this week that the city got a response from FEMA on some paperwork it needed to move forward. It would have been nice to get that stuff done earlier, city officials said, but they’re still glad they can start buying the homes.

The city plans to buy at least seven properties on Monday and Tuesday. It has 40 on its buyout list total.

The homes will be demolished and made into permanent green space. The goal is to purchase the majority of them by the end of the year so they are not threatened should there be flooding next spring.