For any resident hoping the county would buy up their flood-ravaged property, the answer is “no.”
The Washington County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday against a buyout program that would allow the county to purchase property in the floodway from county residents.
The land would have then been the county’s in perpetuity, unless it would be given to a government entity, such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Because buyout land would be in the county’s floodway, it cannot be built upon.
If the county had agreed to a buyout program, it could have taken up to three years before the properties were closed upon. Funds for a buyout would have been split between the county and FEMA.
“I don’t think the county is interested in millions of dollars to do a buyback,” board member Jeff Quist said.
Region 5/6 director Bill Pook said that his office has only had one or two inquiries about a buyout program, but that no one was really interested in selling.
The properties that would have been available for the buyout lie along the Missouri River, where this summer’s flooding severely damaged homes and reshaped the landscape.
Capping the buyout vote was a discussion on the county’s new FEMA flood maps, which will go into effect in January. The county will most likely approve them at its next meeting Dec. 27.
According to county planning administrator Doug Cook, the flood maps designate much of the Missouri River-adjacent property, such as Lemley’s, DeSoto and Cottonwood Marina, in the floodway, which means nothing can be built in those areas.
However, since Cottonwood Marina was not previously in the floodway, residents can still rebuild if they apply for a building permit before the new maps take effect.
Board member Jerry Kruse questioned why the county had to accept the flood maps.
“I don’t understand why people can’t rebuild there if they want to rebuild,” he said.
Cook said if the county does not accept the flood maps, then the entire county would be subject to a FEMA backlash, which could include ineligibility for FEMA funds in the future.
The biggest thing, though, is that any resident in the county, regardless of whether or not they live on the river, could not buy flood insurance.
In other county board news, the board voted to increase salaries for all elected officials, excluding the board of supervisors, by 1 percent in 2012. The board’s salaries have been frozen for the past several years.